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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 9


Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0089-0002

Author: Cabarrus, B. de, Jeune
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-04-08

B. de Cabarrus Jeune to John Adams: A Translation

[salute] Sir

I have received the letter that your Excellency did me the honor to write of 2 April.1 I am very grateful for the compliments you were kind enough to bestow on me and the regard that you have for my opinions. I will always be very happy to find occasion to be useful to you.
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Your Excellency requested an account of the different qualities of wine in this province. We have numerous varieties, which greatly differ according to the soil from which they come.
The wines suitable for America are those of the Palus, Mondferrand, Ambés and adjoining areas. They sell this year at from 180 to 240 per tun, each tun composed of 4 barrels, and each barrel containing 250 bottles in Parisian measure. These wines are too harsh and cloudy for ordinary consumption, but will clear up and improve during the voyage to America.
The wines from Graves are lighter and more delicate, but can also withstand an ocean voyage. They sell this year at 60 to 80 ecus2 per tun, with some older wine at 400 to 600 per tun.
The white wines of Graves are highly esteemed and are sold new from 240 to 300 per tun. Those of 3, 4, 5, and 6 years are worth 500 to 800 .
The white wines of Sauterne of the first growth cost, when young, 300 per tun, at which price I have just bought some. Those from 5 to 10 years old sell from 600 to 1,000 per tun.
The old wines of Medoc, from Haut Brion, St. Julien, or Chateau Margaux and drinkable only after 4, 5, or 6 years would cost 1,200 to 1,800 per tun, depending on the growth. The old wine of Saint Emilion costs 600 to 1,000 per tun. There are some growths that are not so well-known, but which provide excellent wines. The new Medoc wines of this year are a good vintage and are selling at 400 to 600 per tun, but the need to maintain them for 5 or 6 years, until they are drinkable, makes them very expensive. If the wine I had the honor to send your Excellency for his trip and which is the first growth of St. Julien, 1775, was judged good, I could get you more, at 1,500 per tun or 35s per bottle, the price of the glass bottle included. The owner still has about 20 tuns left, which might be sold before receiving your Excellency's reply. Just give me an idea of the price range within which you are willing to purchase your wines and I will get you the best value, without sacrificing quality.
The white wines of Sauterne, Preignac, and Barsac are of nearly the same quality and have the taste of liqueur. Through aging, they acquire the flavor and color of Canary Island wines. The white wine from Graves is drier and does not redden like the others, usually having the color of laurel. The wine can be shipped in cases of 50 bottles each, the usual practice for that going to Paris, and in this condition should arrive without being damaged in transit. It will cost 10 to 13 per quintal, depending upon the availability of transportation. In the Entre Deux Mers, the region between the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers, there are many little white wines, sold in the north, at from 50 to 60 ecus per tun, and which would be excellent wines for North America. They taste good and keep for a long time.3
I took the liberty of informing your Excellency of the misfortune which befell my vessel Le Souci at Portsmouth. Mr. Sabatier and Mr. Dupréx, who also were interested in this expedition, may already have spoken to you about it and requested your support in our dispute with Mr. Simeon Deane who { 119 } supervised the cargo of this vessel. I hope that your Excellency will have the goodness to interest himself in this matter so that justice will be done.4

[salute] I am, with respect, Sir, your excellency's very humble and obedient servant,

[signed] De Cabarrus, Jeune
RC (Adams Papers;) endorsed: “M. Cabarrus a Bourdeaux. ansd 13 Ap. 1780.”
2. At the bottom of the page is a note: “lecu de 3 .” It indicates that here, and in the fourth paragraph below. Cabarrus is quoting his price in terms of the half ecu of three livres tournois.
3. Cabarrus' account of wine production in Bordeaux provides an excellent example of French wine classification in terms of both quality and price. Such information was codified by Napoleon III in 1855 and in later classifications (Alexis Lichine, Guide to the Wines and Vineyards of France, N.Y., 1979, p. 15–101). See also John Bondfield's letter of 12 April (below).
4. No information regarding either the vessel Le Souci or the transaction between Simeon Deane and the Paris mercantile firm of Sabatier Fils & Despréx (Deprés or Depréz) has been found, but see JA's reply of 13 April (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0090

Author: Lee, William
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-04-09

From William Lee

[salute] Dear Sir

I thank you for your favor of the 2d. instant. The Commission you have is certainly very highly important and Honorable, and I doubt not of your executing it properly; taking care that the shafts of envy and malice, which have already began to show themselves, shall not divert your attention from the great object you have in view, which I have no reason to think at present will be speedily accomplish'd.
The well known chicane and duplicity of our Enemies will surely well warrant a fix'd determination not to treat on the most trivial point unless it is in writing.
The Buccaneering expedition I meant, is that preparing under Fullarton. I understand it is to be composed of about 1000 Soldiers and 3 Ships of 40 Guns; a French East India prize is already purchased to be fitted out for this purpose.1
You say very truely that, “when a Society gets disturb'd, Men of great Talents and great Qualities are always found or made,” for it is certain that there are always in the World, many more great Men, than great Occasions; but the first Architect that ever liv'd cou'd not erect a tolerable edifice, with rotten Straw only. The whole mass of the people in England is too corrupt and putrid to produce anything in the least sound and wholsome from the triffleing fermantation that appears at present, therefore in my opinion, the Irish, tho' much debauch'd and profligate as to Politics, are much more worthy of attention and assurances of support than the English. Wou'd it not { 120 } be good Policy in France to have a good stock of muskets and other Military Stores lodged at Dunkirk and other sea Ports ready to throw into England at a short warning if circumstances there should ever require such a measure.
The West India fleet was lying at St. Helens ready to sail under convoy of Comre. Walsingham the 2d. of April waiting only for a fair wind.2 It is given out in England that Walsingham who will have 6000 Troops with him is to go first to Africa and then to the W. Indias; but some people suspect that he is going straight to N. America for it is certain that he carrys out the recruits for the several Regiments that are now in N. America.
I hear that a vessel is arriv'd at Bourdeaux which left America the 2d. of March, will you be so good as to tell me from what port in America she sail'd and what intelligence she brings.
You will see the declaration of Russia with respect to a Neutrality and her propositions to Holland. Sweden Denmark and Portugal to join her in a League for that purpose; Time must discover what effect this will have on the haughty and wrongheaded islanders.
With great respect I am at all times Yrs. Adieu
P.S. We see that the Independence of America was proclaimed publicly by beat of Drum at New Orleans the 19. of August last,3 therefore I suppose Mr. Jay, must have been received with open Arms at Madrid.
1. For William Fullarton's expedition, see Lee's letter of 30 March, and notes 6 and 7 (above).
2. The convoy, intended for Jamaica and including four regiments under the command of Brig. Gen. George Garth, was at St. Helen's on the Isle of Wight, waiting for Como. Robert Walsingham's squadron, which was windbound at Torbay from March until June (Mackesy, War for America, p. 317, 325, 327–329).
3. This erroneous report appeared in a letter, dated 15 Dec. 1779 at Pensacola, from Maj. Gen. John Campbell to Lord George Germain. Campbell announced the Spanish capture of Baton Rouge on 21 Sept., and blamed the British defeat on the extensive preparations for war undertaken by the Spanish officials in Louisiana before the official notification of hostilities between Britain and Spain arrived in America. The letter was printed in the London Gazette of 1 April, and reprinted in various other London newspapers.
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/