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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0009-0004-0006

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-05-13

Thursday. May 13th.

Went on Shore and dined with Captain Jones at the Epèe Royal. Mr. Amiel, Mr. Dick, Dr. Brooke, officers of the Poor Richard, Captain Cazneau, Captain Young, Mr. Ingraham, Mr. Blodget, Mr. Glover, Mr. Conant, Messrs. Moylans, Mr. Maese, Mr. Nesbit, Mr. Cummings, Mr. Tayler, made the Company, with Captain Landais, myself and my Son.
An elegant Dinner we had—and all very agreable.
No very instructive Conversation. But we practiced the old American Custom of drinking to each other, which I confess is always agreable to me.
Some hints about Language, and glances about Women, produced this Observation, that there were two Ways of learning french commonly recommended—take a Mistress and go to the Commedie. Dr. Brookes, in high good Humour—Pray Sir, which in your Opinion is the best? Answer in as good Humour—Perhaps both would teach it soonest, to be sure sooner than either. But, continued I, assuming my Gravity, the Language is no where better spoken than at the Comedie. The Pulpit, the Bar, the Accademie of Sciences, and the faculty of Medicine, none of them speak so accurately as the french Comedie.
After Dinner walked out, with C[aptain]s Jones and Landais to see Jones's Marines—dressed in the English Uniform, red and white. A Number of very active and clever Serjeants and Corporals are employed to teach them the Exercise, and Maneuvres and Marches &c. After which Jones came on Board our ship.
This is the most ambitious and intriguing Officer in the American Navy. Jones has Art, and Secrecy, and aspires very high. You see the Character of the Man in his uniform, and that of his officers and { 371 } Marines, variant from the Uniforms established by Congress. Golden Button holes, for himself—two Epauletts—Marines in red and white instead of Green.
Excentricities, and Irregularities are to be expected from him— they are in his Character, they are visible in his Eyes. His Voice is soft and still and small, his Eye has keenness, and Wildness and Softness in it.

Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0009-0004-0007

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-05-14

May 14. Fryday.

On Board all day, ill of a Cold. Many Gentlemen came on board to visit me. A Dr. Brooks, Surgeon to the Poor Richard, drank Tea with me. He seems to be well acquainted with Philosophical Experiments. I led him to talk upon this subject. He had much to say about Phlogiston, fixed Air, Gas &c. About absolute and sensible Heat, Experiments with the Thermometer, to shew the absolute and sensible Heat in Water, Air, Blood &c.
Finding he had Ideas of these Things, I led him to talk of the Ascent of Vapours in the Atmosphere, and I found he had considered this subject.
He mentioned a natural History of N. and S. Carolina, by Catesby in 4 Volumes folio with Stamps of all the Plants and Animals. Price 25 Guineas. He mentioned a Dr. Erving [Irvine] and a Dr. Black of Glasgow, as great Philosophers, whose Hints Priestly had taken.
This Dr. Brooks is a Gentleman of Family, whose father has a great Fortune and good Character in Virginia. Mr. Dick, Captain of Marines, on Board of Jones, is also of good family and handsome fortune in Virginia.
Mr. Gimaet came on board to visit me, Aid de Camp of the Marquis de la Fayette.1
1. Jean Joseph Sourbader de Gimat had accompanied Lafayette to America in the Victoire in 1777, returned there again in 1780, and achieved a distinguished military record (Lasseray, Les français sous les treize étoiles, 2:418–420).

Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0009-0004-0008

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-05-15

15 May. Saturday.

Went on Shore, and dined with Captain Jones at the Mess, at L'Epee Royale. Mr. Hill, Capt. Cazneau, Captn. Young, Mr. Dick, Dr. Brooks &c. Mr. Gourlade, another Aid du Camp of the Marquis1 &c. Gourlade married a Scotch Lady.—Captain Jones this Morning shewed me a Letter from Lt. Browne, desiring or rather apologizing for leaving the Ship, because of the Word (first) in M. Amiels Com• { 372 } mission. I said, I thought Mr. Browne could not serve under M. Amiel. It would be in a manner giving up the Claims of many Lieutenants whose Commissions were dated between his and Mr. Amiels, as well as his own and would expose him to censure. That the Word first was agreed to be inserted by the Commissioners, because We expected that either We or C. Jones would fill up the Commissions to the other Lieutenants of that Ship, and it was intended to give him an Assurance that he should be the first, on board that Ship. It was not so well considered as it ought to have been, to be sure, but could not now be helped. That however the Word first was void; it could not supercede the Date of any former Commission. Mr. Amiel was so urgent to have it in, that it was agreed to, perhaps, too inconsiderately.
After dinner, took a Walk, out of Town, returned and went to view the two Churches, the [least?] of which has some fine Paintings. St. Joseph, St. Joachim, the Virgin, feeling the Babe leap in her Womb, at the sight of Elizabeth, and many others. Some handsome marble Pillars, and two fine Statues in Plaister of Paris.
In the Evening C[aptain] L[andais] chagrined—suspecting Plots among his Officers against him. Had written to Dr. Franklin relating Things to him, &c. &c. Mr. Blodget came in and said, he had one Chest in the Ward Room, which the Officers had ordered him to take away, but as he had but one and they so many, he ventured to wait for the C's orders. That the Officers were now about to treat him better, conscious that they could not treat him worse. Today they invited him to dine in the Ward Room. But he begged Mr. Diggs [Degge] not to invite him. They had d——d him and he could not dine there, yet did not love to refuse, so begged off.
Such is the Danger of Favouritism, in the Government of a Ship as well as of a State. I have had the Pleasure to restore this Ship to Peace and Harmony, and am perswaded, it would have continued. But when I leave here I see plainly all will become unhappy again. There is such a Mixture of Ductility and Obstinacy in the Government of her as will not keep her together. A tender Heart and an obstinate Will sometimes go together. The C. has told M.B.2 of my Advice that he should not live in the Cabbin. This will raise his Resentment vs. me. And B. will be the Idol still. Yet he will continue to be excluded the Cabin, which will make it worse, for what I know. The Captain is not of an accommodating Humour nor temper. His Resolutions when taken are without Conditions or Exceptions and unalterable, as one would think, yet sometimes too easily and too entirely altered. My Presence has had some degree of Awe upon the Capt. and all the other officers, { 373 } it has made them endeavour to respect one another. But the Fire is not extinguished, it will break out again.
L. said Honour and Delicacy, are his 2d God.—He shall die poor, and despized,—not by those who know him.—This is an honest Man—But Chagrin and Disappointment are visible in every Thing about him.3
He is incapable of all Art. Has no Address or Dexterity at all in managing Men.
P[arson] F[ord] this Morning was upon his Fights and Battles. At such a Time he fought in N.C., such a Time in &c. Once he [fought]4 half an Hour in his shirt tail. Then he got his Rheumatism.— Oh his Groin, his Swelling, his Pains in his Legs, Knees, joints, shoulders, his fever and Ague. If We should have a Battle and he should be sick and killed in his Bed. He had rather be killed ten times upon the Quarter deck, &c.
Coll. Wuibert tells a story. That at Angers a Bishop has been found unconsumed and uncorrupted after being buried many Years. They buried him up again, and is to be dug up again after a certain time, and if found entire, is to be made a saint. His Preservation is to be a Miracle, whereas the Truth is there is salt where he lies. This the Coll. calls Sottise.
1. In the MS this phrase is interlined without indication where it should be inserted. Lafayette's second aide is not clearly identifiable, but he was not Gourlade, who was a Lorient merchant in partnership with James Moylan (Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., index).
2. Mr. Blodget. Nathan Blodget was purser of the Alliance and a partisan of Landais in the latter's feud with his officers (same; see also Landais' Memorial, to Justify Peter Landai's Conduct during the Late War, Boston, 1784, passim).
3. The ambiguous punctuation of this paragraph has been retained as found in the MS.
4. MS: “found.”
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/