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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 1

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0002-0001-0001

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1780-01-01

1780 January 1st Saturday.

This morning Mr. Thaxter wak'd me up by sounding in my ears, I wish you a happy new year and about half an hour before { 23 } sun rise we sot out from Sebrero which was the place where we lodg'd last night and went 5 leagues before dinner. We stopt at a little cottage where we dined. After dinner we went two leagues and at about 5 o clock we arrived at a city call'd Ville Franc [Villafranca del Bierzo] where we lodg'd to night. As we were coming along we saw on the Top of a high hill an ancient castle of the moors and right over against us there is a castle of one of the Lords built before the use of musquets were known. There is a convent of men which is of the Franciscan order and a parish church. We have come 7 leagues to day. We expect to arrive at Astorga Monday night. There we shall determine whether to go directly to Bayonne, by the way of Madrid, or by the way of Bilboa [Bilbao] as the routs change there.1
1. First entry in D/JQA/2, which covers the period, 1–31 Jan. 1780 and JQA's travels from Sebrero, Spain, to Bordeaux, France. No titlepage was made for this Diary booklet; instead, JQA used the outside pages as the cover, which he illustrated with drawings. This Diary booklet, measuring 7⅞″ × 5¾″, consists of six leaves of paper folded over and stitched. Fifteen pages are used for the Diary, others are left blank, and four pages contain drawings. The cover designs are reproduced in this volume; see the John Quincy Adams' Cover Designs for His Second Diary Booklet, 1780 24Descriptive List of Illustrations, No. 2, and the entry for 31 Jan., note 1 (below).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0002-0001-0002

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1780-01-02

2d Sunday.

This morning at seven o clock we got up and at 9 o clock set away. We went through several villages and dined at Ponfarada [Ponferrada]. After dinner we went Through several more villages and arrived at a little village call'd Benbibere [Bembibre] at about 6 o clock. We shall lodge at this place to night. We have come 7 Leagues to day.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0002-0001-0003

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1780-01-03

January 3d 1780 Monday.

This morning we got up at 5 o clock and at 6 we set away from Benbibere. We dined in a little hut amongst the mules and at about 6 o clock we arrived at Astorga. We have had very Good roads all this day. The Guide told us that we had 7 Leagues but we had 10 good English Leagues.
In the first volume of this journal I promised to give a description of several things. I will now give one of the Roads, Houses, men, &c from Corunna as far as this place. The roads in General are very bad. The Lodgings I will not attempt to describe for it is impossible. However I will say something about them. We did
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not once lodge with the mules but not much better. They shew us chambers in which any body would think a half a dozen hogs had lived there six months. I have in my first volume said something about Castellano.1 We have not met with any place quite so bad as that but we have come very near it. Sometimes we might see a chimney but it is very seldom. They have a large flat stone in the middle of the room and they punch two or three holes in the roof of the house out of which some of the Smoke goes and the rest must be borne with. They never wash nor sweep their floors from the time the houses are made to the time they are pull'd down. The roofs of the houses are generally a parcel of boards cover'd with straw. As for the People they are Lazy, dirty, Nasty and in short I can compare them to nothing but a parcel of hogs. Their cloaths are commonly of a dirt colour and their Breeches are big enough for to put a bushel of Corn in besides themselves. I do not wonder at it. Poor Creatures they are eat up by their preists. Near three quarters of what they earn goes to the Preists and with the other Quarter they must live as they can. Thus is the whole of this Kingdom deceived and deluded by their Religion. I thank Almighty God that I was born in a Country where any body may get a good living if they Please. Thus have I given a description of several things. At another opportunity I will give one of several others.
1. A reference to the deplorable lodging conditions in Castillano, the town in which they stayed on the night of 27 Dec. on their journey from Betanzos to Baamond, which was described vividly and at length by JA (Diary and Autobiography, 4:214–216).
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.