A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 4

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0001-0073

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1778-05-10

[May 10. Sunday. 1778.]

May 10. Sunday. 1778. Messieurs Brattle, Waldo, Joy, Johonnot, Green and Austin, dined with Us, at Passi. After dinner We walked in the Bois de Boulogne, as far as the new Seat of the Count D'Artois, which he called Baggatelle, where We saw Mr. Turgot, Mr. and Madam La Frété and much other Company, Sunday in this Country being devoted to diversions, Exercises and Amusements. There were more Games, Plays and Sports of every kind on that day than on any other in the Week. Some of these American Gentlemen I suspect came over from England, with hopes of Employment by the Commissioners or of recommendations to Congress. Mr. Waldo was however the only one who applied explicitly to me for that purpose. But in the first place We had no Employments to bestow, and in the next place, I thought as Mr. Waldo had left America and resided in England so long before the War broke out, it would be doing Injustice to others who had born the burthen in the heat of the day, to appoint him to any place worth his accepting. The Answer I gave him, I do not remember, and should have forgotten the Conversation, had not Sir John Temple told me, several Years afterwards that Mr. Waldo was much offended and took great exceptions to what I had said to him. He reported to Sir John that I told him I would set my face against him tooth and nail. These are very vulgar Expressions and were very unnecessary, if I said them, which I doubt. But although Mr. Waldo had been esteemed a good Whigg in Boston, when he left it, yet he had never any particular merit that I knew of, he had left his Country for six Years of her great• { 96 } est distress, and had never discovered any inclination to return to it, till after the Conquest of Burgoine and the Treaty with France and therefore I thought there was a meanness in his Wishes to take the bread out of the mouths of Men, who had done, suffered and merited much more than he had.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0001-0074

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1778-05-11

[May 11. Monday.]

May 11. Monday. Dined at Mr. Sorins, at Passi.1 Here, if I mistake not I dined with a Bishop, and another Gentleman and Lady. The Lady was known by the Husband to be the Mistress of the Bishop, and it was no Secret to any body. The Bishop was reported to have made some compensation to the Husband, by procuring him some little Employment and by contributing some what largely to the Expences of the family. The Countenances of the Bishop, the Husband and the Wife were watch'd by me with more marked Attention, than was perhaps compatible with good Breeding in France. No notice of it, however was taken by any of the Company. The Jesuitical face of the Bishop, who was said too, to be one of the most sensible Men in France, The conscious humiliation in the Faces of both Husband and Wife, convinced me, that misery was in the hearts of them all: that they saw and approved better Things, but followed the worse. Such are the manners of France, said I to myself. Our Republican Governments in America, must exclude all these Examples or We shall be soon undone.
1. The Diary entry of this date ends at this point. The remembered incident and comment that follow were omitted by CFA in his text.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0001-0075

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1778-05-12

[May 12. Tuesday. 1778.]

May 12. Tuesday. 1778. Mr. Deane had left the care of his Son Jesse with Dr. Franklin and Dr. Bancroft, so that I had no longer any responsibility, on his Account. Mr. Vernon had chosen to remain at Bourdeaux, although I had proposed to him to come to Passi and assist me as my private Secretary, a Situation which would at least have borne all his Expences, and initiated him very early, into the Knowledge of the foreign Affairs of his Country: but as his Fathers Views were commercial rather than political, I could not disapprove of his Choice. In Answer to a Letter from him I wrote him the following

[To William Vernon, Jr.]

[salute] My dear Sir

Your favour of the tenth of last month came to my hands some days ago, and I believe that your determination to reside at Bourdeaux, in preference to any other commercial City is judicious, because it is generally agreed to be the most oppulent and flourishing; and its proximity to Spain may give you a fairer Opportunity of gaining Knowledge of the Trade of both Kingdoms, than you could have, in any other.1
{ 97 }
I can say nothing of your choice of a House, because the Gentlemen are wholly unknown to me; for which reason I believe it will be better for me, to refer you to Mr. Bondfield the American Agent, than to write directly to Messieurs Feyers.
Give my Compliments to Mr. Bondfield, and ask the favour of him to assist you in settling the terms with those Gentlemen or any other with whom you may determine to agree. Mr. Bondfield may be assured that he will be doing much good, by assisting you, for that you are sprung from a Family of much merit, in America. That your Father who was a Merchant of large property and excellent reputation, in the Town of Newport in Rhode Island, has had the Virtue to abandon his property to the fury of a British Army, and take his Lot with his Countrymen, in their hardy Struggle for Liberty. That he is a Gentleman in high Trust and Esteem, being the first of the three Members of the Continental Navy Board, established at Boston, for the Eastern District of North America.
If these things are decently represented to those Gentlemen, I doubt not, they will agree to take you into their family: and Mr. Bondfields Goodness of heart I am convinced, will be gratified by the Opportunity of rendering this Service to a young Gentleman of liberal Education and promising hopes, and to a Father, whose Sufferings and Services, have deserved this friendship of his Countrymen. Shew this Letter to Mr. Bondfield, who may shew it, to whomsoever, he will. I am, Sir, with much Esteem, your Friend and humble Servant
[signed] John Adams

[addrLine] Mr. William Vernon Jur. at Bourdeaux.

This day We dined at Mr. Dupres, at the [] Montagne. The Gardens and the prospects were very fine. The Place lies adjoining to the Seat of the First President of the Parliament of Paris. We met his Lady in our Walks, and she desired the Gentlemen to shew Us the Grounds, but not the whole of them, for she wished to enjoy the Company of the American Ministers, At her house, at her own invitation, and she chose to reserve a part of the Curiosities of the place as an inducement to Us to accept it. Compliments are so essential a branch of the Science of Life, the Savoir vivre, in France, that it is astonishing how prompt and ingenious, they are in producing them.
From this Hill We had a fine View of the Country, and of the Kings Castle at Vincennes. My little Son and the other young Americans at the Pension, were invited and dined with Us.
1. Vernon's letter, dated 10 April, is in The Adams Papers. He did not remain in Bordeaux; see JA's Diary entry of 13 Feb. 1778 and note 3 there.
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.