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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0007-0014

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-05-14

14th.

At 5 in the morning I was in my Cabriolet, and never stopp'd anywhere untill I arrived at Rennes, which was at 11. at night. By coming through a cross road I shortened the Journey 3 posts; so that I came only 13 ½ or 81. miles. The roads were so bad that I could not ride more speedily. I trembled whenever I saw a town before me: for they are all paved in such a manner, that it seems done on purpose to break every Carriage that passes through them: mine with the heat of the Sun, and these dreadful roads is split in several places. At 7 posts from Rennes I entered into the Province of Britanny: I expected to be visited very strictly; but was agreeably disappointed: a Custom house officer, came, and ask'd if I had anything in my baggage, contrary to the king's ordinances: on my answering no; he told my postilion to drive on, without any further searching: and what surprised me most was that he did not beg a half crown piece. At Rennes { 268 } my postilion first drove me, to the sign of the sheep, (au mouton) which by all accounts is a very good house: but there was not one empty room in the house: he then brought me, to such a tavern, as has not I really believe its equal in France. When I went into the house a dirty, ill looking woman, led me up a rotten pair of stairs, into a room, where there were a few remnants of paper hangings, which had formerly decorated it, a table, which was as good as tables in France commonly are, a chair, in which I dare not sit at ease, lest it should fall to pieces, a bed stead, that is of a piece with the rest, and numberless cobwebs

Where half starv'd spiders, feed on half starv'd flies

compose the furniture of this apartment. I enquired whether there was any provisions in the house, and was answered, that I might have some bread and butter. I was glad to get any thing and ask'd for any thing they could find, but when they had made me wait an hour, they discovered that they had no butter in the house: I determined to go to bed but when I endeavoured to lock the door of my Chamber, I found it impracticable. I heartily wish'd myself out of the house, and went to bed, endeavouring to keep awake, as much as possible, notwithstanding, I was so much fatigued.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0007-0015

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-05-15

15th.

Left the Hotel d'Artois, at about 5 in the morning, and was determined not to stop again before I arrived at L'Orient; for I had no Inclination to lodge in another house like those at Rennes and at Préz-en-Pail. At Josselin a small village, about half way between Rennes and L'Orient I saw a mountabank, curiously dress'd riding about in the Streets on horseback beating a drum, with a number of Peasants following him. He made a stop, in a square, and began to harangue the assembly. I was in my Carriage at the Post office, and while they were changing horses I was near enough to hear the speech of the Quack. He had the honour to inform the gentlemen and Ladies that he was the greatest man in the world at slight hand, that he had exhibited before, the kings of France, Spain and Holland, to their astonishment and admiration. He continued a considerable time in the same style, and concluded by saying, that he should this evening give the first representation of Ovid's Metamorphoses, and as it was merely out of regard for them, and from no motive of inter• { 269 } | view est that he meant to exhibit,1 his first places should be only 2 sous each. I could not help laughing heartily to see the fellow go on in that manner while all the peasants round him stood in admiration of his talents

Grands yeux ouverts, bouche béante.

At about 6 o'clock I arrived at Lo[c]miné; which is 6 ½ posts from L'Orient. They gave me a Postillion who was so drunk that he could hardly keep on his horse. Before he got out of the town he run one of the wheels, against the corner of an house, with so much violence, that I expected the wheel was broke: but luckily it was not. I was in continual fear of being overset and having my Carriage, if not my bones broke. I got however safe to the End of my Post: owing more to my good fortune than any thing else: for the roads were very bad. I rode all night and at 4 o'clock Monday morning arrived at L'Orient. I went to the Epée Royale, and to the Hotel d'Artois, but there was no Chamber vacant in either. The Postillion then brought me to the Hotel de la Marine, which is not a good house, but is a Palace in comparison with those I stopp'd at on the way. The roads between Rennes and this Place, are very hilly and rough, but are not I think, so bad as those, between Alençon and Rennes. The Country looks very poor; and the fields seem to produce nothing: but the Country people look neater and gayer than in any other part of France, and I saw less beggars than I have commonly met with. What it is owing to I cannot say; but this Province boasts of enjoying peculiar privileges, and of having a greater portion of liberty than any other. The Bretons say that their Parliament is the firmest and most respectable in the kingdom: how far this is true I know not, but it is certain, that the Parliament of Rennes have distinguished themselves, upon several occasions, when the others did not show the same courage.
The Expenses of a single person from Paris to L'Orient, in a Cabriolet, the carriage that is commonly made use of in France, for travelling, are as follows.
    liv:  
Hire of a Cabriolet     120.  
60 posts. 2 horses at 30 sols per post, each     180.  
the 3d. horse, about 12 posts     18.  
Postillions 1 livre per Post     60  
Lodging on the road, and the 2 posts Royal     32  
  Total.   410.  
{ 270 }
If two persons travel together they take only three horses, and the expences being thus divided, will not amount to more than 300 livres each. The first thing a traveller should purchase, when he arrives in France, is a Post Book. They are published every six months and contain every information relative to travelling Post, necessary. They are to be found at every bookseller's shop.
1. Punctuation supplied.
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/