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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0008-0003-0006

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1778-04-06

April 6. Monday.

Arrived at Poictiers, the City so famous, for the Battle which was fought here. It is a beautifull situation and the Cultivation of the Plains about it is exquisite. The Houses are old and poor and the Streets very narrow. Afternoon passed thro Chatelerault, another City, nearly as large as Poictiers, and as old, and the Streets as narrow. When We stopped at the Post to change our Horses, about 20 young Women came about the Chaise, with their elegant Knives, scissors, tooth Picks &c. to sell. The Scaene was new to me, and highly diverting. Their eagerness to sell a Knife, was as great, as that of some Persons I have seen in other Countries to get Offices. We arrived in the Evening at Ormes, the magnificent Seat of the Marquis D'Argenson.— It is needless to make particular Remarks upon this Country. Every Part of it, is cultivated. The Fields of Grain, the Vineyards, the Castles, { 296 } the Cities, the Parks, the Gardens, every Thing is beautifull: yet every Place swarms with Beggars.

Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0008-0003-0007

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1778-04-07

1778. April 7. Tuesday.

Travelled from Les Ormes, the splendid Seat of the Marquis D'Argenson, to Mer. We went through Tours, and Amboise, and several other smaller Villages. Tours is the most elegant Place We have yet seen. It stands upon the River Loire, which empties itself at Nantes. We rode upon a Causey, made in the River Loire, for a great Number of Miles. The Meadows and River Banks were extremely beautifull.

Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0008-0003-0008

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1778-04-08

April 8. Wednesday.

Rode through Orleans, &c. and arrived at Paris, about 9 O Clock. For 30 Miles from Paris or more the Road is paved, and the Scaenes extreamly beautifull.
At Paris We went to several Hotels which were full—particularly the Hotell D'Artois, and the Hotell Bayonne. Then We were advised to the Hotell de Valois, where We found entertainment. But We could not have it without taking all the Chambers upon the floor which were four in Number, very elegant and richly furnished, at the small Price of two Crowns and an Half a Day, without any Thing to eat or drink. We send for Victuals to the Cooks. I took the Apartments only for two or three days.
At our Arrival last Night at a certain Barrier, We were stopped and searched, and paid the Duties for about 25 Bottles of Wine which we had left of the generous Present of Mr. Delap at Bourdeaux.
My little Son has sustained this long Journey of near 500 Miles at the Rate of an hundred Miles a day with the Utmost Firmness, as he did our fatiguing and dangerous Voyage.
Immediately on our Arrival, We were called upon for our Names, as We were at Mrs. Rives's at Bourdeaux.
We passed the Bridge, last Night over the Seine, and passed thro the Louvre. The Streets were crowded with Carriages, with Livery Servants.

Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0008-0003-0009

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1778-04-09

1778 April 9. Thursday.

This Morning the Bells, and Carriages, and various Cries in the Street make Noise enough, yet the City was very still last Night towards the Morning.
{ 297 }
Le Hotell de Valois, en Rue de Richlieu, is the Name of the House and Street where I now am. Went to Passy, in a Coach, with Dr. Noel, and my Son.
Dr. Franklin presented to me the Compliments of Mr. Turgot, lately Comptroller of the Finances, and his Invitation to dine with him.1 Went with Dr. Franklin and Mr. Lee and dined in Company with the Dutchess D'Anville, the Mother of the Duke De Rochefoucault, and twenty of the great People of France.—It is in vain to Attempt a Description of the Magnificence of the House, Gardens, Library, Furniture, or the Entertainment of the Table. Mr. Turgot has the Appearance of a grave, sensible and amiable Man. Came home and supped with Dr. Franklin on Cheese and Beer.2
1. Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, Baron de l'Aulne (1727–1781), French statesman and philosophe (Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Générale). It was a letter of Turgot's to Richard Price, concerning the new American state constitutions, written in 1778 and published in Price's Observations on the Importance of the American Revolution, London, 1784, that prompted JA to write a gigantic rebuttal entitled JA, Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, London, 1787–1788; 3 vols. The personal and intellectual relations of JA and Turgot have been described, and JA's marginalia on Turgot's letter of 1778 printed, in Haraszti, JA and the Prophets of Progress, ch. 8, “Turgot's Attack on the American Constitutions.” On the more immediate origins of JA's Defence see note on entry of 29 [i.e. 28] July 1786, below.
2. This is the only intimation in the Diary that JA and JQA had joined Franklin's already numerous household in Passy, but a memorandum in JA's copy of the American Commissioners' accounts, 1777–1779 (in Lb/JA/35, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 123), dated “Passi September 27 1778,” states: “I arrived at Paris in the Evening of the 8th of April, and the next Morning, waited on Dr. Franklin at Passi, where I have resided from that Time.”
Franklin's lodgings were in a separate building on the extensive grounds of the Hôtel de Valentinois, named for a former owner but acquired in 1776 by M. Le Ray de Chaumont (see next entry in this Diary), on the heights of Passy close to the Bois de Boulogne and overlooking the Seine and Paris to the east. The once semirural suburb of Passy is now engulfed by Paris, and blocks of apartments shut off the view that Franklin and his colleagues enjoyed; but see a plan of “Franklin's Passy,” with explanatory text, in Bernard Faÿ, Franklin, the Apostle of Modern Times, Boston, 1929, facing p. 452, and a detail from an 18th-century map of the neighborhood in Howard C. Rice Jr., The Adams Family in Auteuil, 1784–1785, Boston, 1956. A contemporary description of the Valentinois gardens will be found in Dezallier, Environs de Paris, 1779, p. 16–18. The building occupied by Franklin and his entourage and by JA in succession to Silas Deane was variously called the “pavilion,” the “basse cour,” and the “petit hôtel”; a tablet now marks its site on a building at the corner of Rue Reynouard and Rue Singer. The American headquarters at Passy have been described by nearly all of Franklin's biographers, but perhaps in most detail by John Bigelow (who as American minister in Paris at one time hoped to acquire the site for a United States legation), in an article entitled “Franklin's Home and Host in France,” Century Mag., 35:741–754 (March 1888). The “petit hôtel” survived until at least 1866.
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/