A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 8

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0014

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Date: 1779-03-24

To Arthur Lee

[salute] Dear Sir

I have this Moment the Honour of yours of 18.
I am perfectly of your Opinion that We have yet a hard Battle to fight. The Struggle will yet be long, and painfull, and the Difficulty of it will arise from nothing more than the weak Disposition <both> in our Country men, as well as our Allies to think it will be short.
Long before, this War began I expected, a severe Tryal: but I never foresaw so much Embarrassement, from selfishness, Vanity, flattery and Corruption, as I find.
If these proceed much longer in their Career, it will not be worth the while of Men of Virtue, to make themselves miserable by continuing in the service.
If they leave it, the American system of Flattery and Corruption, will still prevail over the British. But there will be an End of our virtuous Vision of a Kingdom of the just.
{ 17 }
I wrote Mr Issard from Nantes.1 My Regards to him and your Brother.
I am no Hand at a Cypher, but will endeavour, to unridel if you write in it. With much Esteem, your huml sert
[signed] John Adams
RC (DLC); addressed: “A Monsieur Monsieur Lee, Ministre Plenipotentiaire, des Etats Unis D'L'Amerique. Hotel D'Espagne, Rue Guenegaud A Paris Per Mr Blodget.”; docketings or notations made in various hands and at different times: above the address, “The Honble. J. Adams”; in the upper left corner of the address page, “Given me in 1837 by the Hon. John Quincy Adams. L. J. Cist”; at the top of the first page, “Hon J Q Adams”; in the left margin of the first page, “Hon J Q Adams.” This is one of thirteen letters sent to JQA by the grandson of Richard Henry Lee in 1827 and 1828 (see JA to Arthur Lee, 10 Oct. 1778, descriptive note). According to JQA, “I selected the Letter of 24 March 1779, written at Brest, to send as an Autograph to Lewis J. Cist at Cincinnati, Ohio, taking first a copy of it for preservation” (JQA, Diary, 26 April 1837, Memoirs, 9:353). The copy by JQA is in the Adams Papers, and with it is a document, in Cist's hand, containing copies of the letter of 24 March as well as those from JA to Elbridge Gerry of 28 May 1780 and to John Trumbull of 28 April 1785. The three letters were part of Cist's autograph collection and the copies were enclosed, according to a note by HA2, in a letter from Cist to CFA of 30 Dec. 1854. In his remarks on this letter of 24 March, JQA stated that it was done “when my father was about to return to the United States. I was then reading Don Quichotte de la Manche in the Cabin of the Frigate Alliance, or walking the Streets of Brest with Captain Landais” (same).
1. Presumably the letter of 12 March mentioned by Izard in his reply of 20 March (above), but which has not been found.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0015

Author: Williams, Jonathan
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-03-28

From Jonathan Williams

[salute] Dear Sir

I have not written to you since your Departure because I have not before had anything to communicate, and now it is probable you will have already heard what I have to say.
The last accounts from England inform us that Pondicherry and Chandanargor in the East Indies are taken by the English, after above two months Seige.1 The Papers say also that a french Man of War and a Frigate are lost on the Cape of Good Hope.2 Senegal is taken by the French,—the Garrison at Fort James was so weakened by Sickness that it fell an easy prey.3
We have had besides the above a great many Bruits, but as they seem to have been calculated only pour faire du Bruit, I shall not trouble you with any account of them.4
I shall be exceeding happy to know if I may expect the pleasure of { 18 } seeing you here again being with great Respect Dear Sir Your most obed servant
[signed] Jon Williams J.
Remember me to Master Jack—est il content de la Comedie, <a Brest> aprés avoir vu la belle Salle de Nantes, celle de Brest ne doit pas lui plaire; tout le monde n'est pas de cet avis, mais il faut souvenir que notre salle a eu le Merite d'etre consacrée aux cheveaux, quoiqu'il n'y va aujourdhui que des ânes.5
1. According to reports in the London Chronicle of 16–18 March, Pondicherry was taken by troops of the British East India Company in Oct. 1778. Chandernagore, a French settlement near Calcutta, had been taken earlier.
2. The London Chronicle of 18–20 March contained a report that “the Phelizburg, a French man of war of 74 guns, and the Orleans frigate, were both lost near the Cape of Good Hope, the 27th of Aug. last, in their passage from Toulon to Pondicherry.” No mention has been found, however, of any French naval vessels with those names. See, for example, Dull, French Navy and Amer. Independence, apps. B, C, and D.
3. See JA to Benjamin Franklin, 24 March, note 3 (above).
4. One example of such rumors was the report in the London Chronicle of 20–23 March that “Advice is reported to have been received from Paris, by some respectable houses here [London], that one of the American Plenipotentiaries at the Court of France, has been put under arrest for having carried on a correspondence with the English Ministry.”
5. Translation: Is he content with the Comedy <at Brest>. After having seen the fine hall at Nantes, that of Brest cannot please him; everyone is not of this opinion, but he should remember that our hall had the honor to be dedicated to horses, although only asses go there now.
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.