P. B. No. 29.
[The preceding text was added in the handwriting of Charles Francis Adams]
Inside Front Cover
1779 MARCH 12. FRYDAY.
About one O Clock arrived at Nantes at L'hotelle de la Comedie, Rue [de Bignon-Lestard], after a journey of near five days, having sett off from Passy Monday the 8th. This journey, which was by Versailles, is thro the most barren and least cultivated Part of France.
After Dinner, I had the Honour to be visited by the following American Gentlemen. Mr. Williams, Mr. Williams my Pupil, Mr. Lloyd, Mr. Ridley, Mr. Wharton, Mr. Lee, Mr. Daubr e, Mr. Maese, Captn. Jones, Lt. Brown, Mr. Ingraham, Mr. Cummings, Mr. Bradford, Mr.
Mr. Jno. Lloyd is a sensible Man. He says that the french officers of Marine, consider Convoys as a disgracefull Service. They hate to be ordered to convoy Merchant Vessells. That when a Convoy is ordered, the officer is negligent and the Merchant dares not complain. The Marine officers and Police officers, and Custom house officers are connected together, and if a Merchant complains he is marked out as an obnoxious Person and Advantages are taken of him, so that he hold his Tongue.
1779 AP. 28. WEDNESDAY.
Went up to Nantes from Minden or St. Nazare, before Wind and Tide in 4 Hours. This Morning by C. [Captain] Landais who came on board I received a Letter from Dr. F. inclosing one from M. de Sartine, both expressing a Desire, that the Alliance might not sail for some Time, and that I would take my Passage home, with M. Le Chevalier de la Luzerne, the new Ambassador, in one of the Kings Frigates.
This is a cruel Disappointment. -- To exchange May for July, and the Alliance for [illegible] another Frigate, is too much.
Lodged at the Hotel de St. Julien, where I find the Accommodations better than at L'hotel de la Comedie. . . .
Dined at the Hotel, with a Number of Navy Officers, several with the Cross of St. Louis. Drank Tea, at Mrs. Johnsons. Had much Conversation with him about Consuls, Agents. He thinks one Consul enough for the Kingdom with Power of Deputation. This that a Duty of so much per Ton on all Ships, entering a french Port, for the Relief of unfortunate Americans, Prisoners,
Shipwrecked Persons, &c. That no Man should be discharged from a Ship but by the Consul. That six, ten, or twelve Merchants should be appointed to inspect the Consuls accounts, once in 3 Months, &c.
1779. MAY 7TH OR 8TH. FRYDAY.
Mr. Odea of Paimboeuf, Coll. Wibirt and Mr. Ford, dined in the Cabin. O. speaks English perfectly, appears to have read much, is an Admirer of Rousseau and Buffon. W. is silent; has something little in his Face and Air: and makes no great Discovery of Skill or Science.
F. talks as much as ever.
Says, that the Americans at Paris, wished I had remained at Passy, instead of F. [Franklin] -- that Passy is deserted by the Americans since I came away -- that nobody goes there now but B., W. and a young Williams, (which is my Ws. I suppose) who dine there every Sunday. That he has copied Papers for Mr. W. L. [William Lee] which prove upon F. many Contradictions of himself, &c. That F. told him he did not believe I should go to America -- that the Alliance would not be ready for some time -- that a Commission would come for me, for some other Court, &c.
That F. did not shew his Greatness in the Contract for old Arms, for Soldiers Cloaths at 37 Livres a Suit, or for Virginia Tobacco. Is much puzzled at the Mystery of Jones's Ship, says she is private Property, that therefore L. [Landais] ought not to be under his Command &c. &c. &c.
I undertook to sound our Engineer this Evening and find he has Knowledge. He says one should begin with the Architecture of Vignol, and draw the five ordres, the Doric, Ionic, Tuscan, Corinthian and composite -- Begin with a Pedastal, then the Column, then the Capital, then the ornaments -- from civil you may go to military Architecture, and naval if you will. Ces cinque ordres D'Architecture se construissent, par le moyen d'une Echelle divis e en modules, le module en Parties, demi Parties et quart de Partie &c.
He made many Observations to my Son about the Ink, the Instruments, the Pens, the manner of holding the Hand, sitting to the Light of Day or Candle &c. which shew that he knows Something of these Sciences. He is a Designateur. He never had a Master he says.
This Evening arrived Capt. Jones from Baltimore. He sailed 28 March -- brings no News Papers nor News. No Dispatches from Congress. No Letters but to Mr. Johnson, and a Packet for Bourdeaux.
1779. MAY 9. SATURDAY SUNDAY.
The Pilot came on Board this Morning from St. Nazare, and pronounced it unsafe to go out, with this Wind.
F. this Morning, fell to talking. -- "Above half the Gentlemen of Paris are Atheists, and the other half Deists. No Body goes to Church but the common People."
I wish I could find one honest Man among their Merchants and Tradesmen" &c. &c.
Mr. F., says I, let me be so free as to request of you, when you arrive in America, not to talk in this Style. It will do a great deal of Harm. These Sentiments are not just, they are contracted Prejudices, and Mr. Lee and Mr. Izard too have hurt them selves and the public too by indulging in a similar Language.
F. "Oh! I am no Hypocrite." -- Thus this Prater goes on.
Yesterday he wanted me, to get him a Passage on board the french Frigate, that I am to go in. I told him I did not think it would be practicable. And I hope it will not, for I dont wish such a Man to go, in that Ship.
At Dinner, much Conversation about the Electrical Eel which gives a Shock to a ring of Persons like the Touch of a Bottle or Conductor. -- What is the Name of this fish?
The Magnet is nothing but Iron Oar, Somebody said at Table, and that the Tendency towards the Pole is in all Iron. -- Q.
This afternoon, a Mr. Watkin a Disciple of the great Whitfield as he calls himself, performed divine Service upon the Quarter Deck. He is not learned, but his Prayer was very good for the united States and their Allies, their Army and Gen., their Navy and this Ship and her Commander. His Sermon also was passable.
talks much about Batavia, is an Admir
of that Dutch Settlement in the East Indies.
This Gentleman has been disappointed in Love and in his Ambition -- disappointed in the Promotion to which he aspired, and in a Marriage of which he thought himself sure. He has not so much Activity, Dispatch and Decision as [one?] could wish. He seems not to know how to gain or preserve the Affections of his Officers, nor yet how to keep them in Awe. Complaisance, firmness and Steadiness are necessary to the Command of a Ship. Whether it is his imperfect Knowledge of the Language, or his Absence of Mind when poring upon his Disappointments, or any defect in his Temper or judgment, I know not, but this happy Mixture seems to be wanting. His Lieutenants are smart Men, quick and active -- not lettered it is true, but good Seamen, and brave.
MONDAY MAY. 10.
This Morning the Wind at S.E. The Pilot came on board, the Alliance unmoored and set Sail, for L'orient. A gentle Breeze, fair Weather, and moderately warm.
The 1 Lt. -- I have made by this War 120 of Prize Money, for which I got six Months Imprisonment, and spent all the little that I had. This is all I have got by the War.
The Sand Droguers and Chimney Sweepers in Boston have all turned Merchants and made Fortunes.
Ingraham. Otis says when the Pot boils the Scum rises to the Top. Eg. The new Cyder
, when it ferments sends all
, Worms, bruised seeds and all sorts of Nastiness to the Top.
People of Fortune have spent their Fortunes, and those who had none, have grown rich.
Ford. I came to France with the highest opinion of Dr. F. -- as a Philosopher, a Statesman and as even the Pater Patriae. But I assure you Tempora mutantur.
He has very moderate Abilities, He knows nothing of Philosophy, but his few Experiments in Electricity: He is an Atheist, he dont believe any future State: Yet he is terribly afraid of dying. This is Fords Opinion. This is his Character of the great Man.
I believe it is too much to say that he is an Atheist, and that he dont believe a future State: tho I am not certain his Hints, and Squibs sometimes go so far as to raise Suspicions: -- and he never tells any Body, I fancy that he believes a G. [God], a P. [Purgatory] or f. s. [future state]. It is too rank to say that he understands nothing of Philosophy, but his own electrical Experiments, altho I dont think him so deeply read in Philosophy, as his Name impute.
He has a Passion for Reputation and Fame, as strong as you can imagine, and his Time and Thoughts are chiefly employed to obtain it, and to set Tongues and Pens male and female, to celebrating him. Painters, Statuaries, Sculptors, China Potters, and all are set to work for this End. He has the most affectionate and insinuating Way of charming the Woman or the Man that he fixes on. It is the most silly and ridiculous Way imaginable, in the Sight of an American, but it succeeds, to admiration, fullsome and sickish as it is, in Europe.
When I arrive, I must enquire -- concerning Congress, Ennemys Army, R.I., N.Y., G. [Georgia], our Army, our Currency, Mass. Bay, Boston &c.
1779. TUESDAY. MAY 11.
Sailing by Belisle, which the English took last War after a Defence of Six Weeks with about 900 Men.
F. still on the Subject. He says that the Contract made by F. [Franklin] and D. [Deane] with the farmers general, was for 40 Pr. Ct. whereas Tobacco was then at 90 and T. Morris made a Contract with them before for 70.
F. and D. to be sure were duped by the Farmers General but Fd. [Ford] has nothing accurate in his Head, nothing judicious. He must be mistaken about Tobacco's being at 90. He says farther it was to be du Poieds marques which makes a difference of 8 Pound in the Hundred against Us.
He says, Deane received from the Banker 1700 st. after he knew he was recalled at 1100 of it the Morning he went away. And he believes that Deane gave Money to Bancroft that he is now living upon. -- It is impossible but he must be mistaken about the sum that D. received, and the Insinuation about Bancroft, is mere Suggestion and Conjecture. There is no End of such Whispers.
Dr. W. [Windship]
told me of Tuckers rough tarry Speech, about me at the Navy Board. -- I did not say much to him at first, but damn and buger
my Eyes, I found him after a while as
sociable as any Marblehead man. -- Another of Hinman
, that he had been treated with great Politeness by me, and his first Attention must be to see Mrs. Adams
, and deliver her Letters.
WEDNESDAY MAY 12TH.
L. [Landais] is as jealous as a [illegible] of every Thing. Jealous of every Body, of all his Officers, all his Passengers. He knows not how to treat his Officers, nor his Passengers nor any Body else. -- Silence, Reserve, and a forbidding Air, will never gain the Hearts, neither by Affection nor by Veneration, of our Americans.
There is in this Man an Inactivity and an Indecision that will ruin him. He is bewildered -- an Absent bewildered man -- an embarrassed Mind.
This Morning he began "You are a great Man but you are deceived. The Officers deceive you! They never do their Duty but when you are on deck. They never obey me, but when you are on deck. The officers were in a Plott vs. me at Boston, and the Navy Board promised to remove them all from the ship and yet afterwards let them all come on Board."
Conjectures, Jealousies, Suspicions. -- I shall grow as jealous as any Body.
I am jealous that my Disappointment is owing to an Intrigue of Jones's. Jones, Chaumont, Franklin concerted the Scheme. Chaumont applied to Mr. De S [Sartine]
. He wrote the Letter. If this Suspicion is well founded, I am to be made the Sport of Jones's Ambition to be made a Commodore. Is it possible that I should bear this?
Another Suspicion is that this Device was hit upon by Franklin and Chaumont to prevent me from going home, least I should tell some dangerous Truths. Perhaps, Jones's Commodoreship, and my detention might both concur. Can I bear either? It is hard, very hard, but I must bear every Thing. I may as well make a Virtue of Necessity, for I cannot help my self
Does the old Conjurer dread my Voice in Congress? He has some Reason for he has often heard it there, a Terror to evil doers.
I may be mistaken in these Conjectures, they may be injurious to J. and to F. and therefore I shall not talk about them, but I am determined to put down my Thoughts and see which turns out.
Mr. Chaumont and his son are here and have been 15 days. But no Chevalier de la Luzerne, nor any french Frigate.
It is decreed that I shall endure all Sorts of Mortifications. There is so much Insolence, and Contempt, in the Appearance of this. Do I see that these People despize me, or do I see that they dread me? -- Can I bear Contempt -- to know that I am despized? It is my duty to bear every Thing. -- that I cannot help.
As I set in my Quarter Gallery, We are sailing directly into Port Louis, at L'orient, before a fine pleasant Breeze. There is a strong Fortification at the Entrance of this Harbour
, at which we were hailed, and asked Whence? Where -- Name of Vessell
-- Captain &c.
What an Advantage to Nantes, would such a Port and Harbour
as this be?
Went ashore. C. Landais, myself and son, went on Board the poor Richard, saw C. Jones and his officers, Mr. Moylan, Captain Cazneau, Captain Young, &c.
Went to visit Mr. Grondell Commandant des Troupes de Terre, found there Mr. Thevenard, Commandant du Port, Mr. Desaudr e India Merchant.
Went then to visit Mr. Le Ray de Chaumont, who has been here 15 days with his son.
Went then to visit Mr. Grandville, Commissaire General du Port. Then to the Commissaire des Classes.
Was very politely received, by all these Gentlemen, and Captn. Landais treated with particular respect.
I spoke very freely to Mr. Chaumont, about my situation -- told him, I was ill treated -- that I had many jealousies and Suspicions -- that I suspected it was an Intrigue.
THURSDAY. MAY 13TH.
Went on Shore and dined with Captain Jones at the Ep e Royal. Mr. Amiel, Mr. Dick, Dr. Brooke, officers of the Poor Richard, Captain Cazneau, Captain Young, Mr
Mr. Ingraham, Mr. Blodget, Mr. Glover, Mr. Conant, Messrs. Moylans, Mr. Maese, Mr. Nesbit, Mr. Cummings, Mr. Tayler, made the Company, with Captain Landais, myself and my Son
. An elegant Dinner we had. -- and all very agreable
No very instructive Conversation. But we practiced the old American Custom of drinking to each other, which I confess is always agreable to me.
Some hints about Language, and glances about Women, produced this Observation, that there were two Ways of learning french commonly recommended -- take a Mistress and go to the Commedie. Dr. Brookes in high good Humour Pray Sir, which in your Opinion is the best? Answer in as good Humour -- Perhaps both would teach it soonest, to be sure sooner than either. But, continued I, assuming my Gravity, the Language is no where better spoken than at the Comedie. The Pulpit, the Bar, the Accademie of Sciences, and the faculty of Medicine, none of them speak so accurately as the french Comedie.
After Dinner walked out, with C.s [Captains]
Jones and Landais to see Jones's Marines -- dressed in the English Uniform, red and white. A Number of very active and clever Sergeants and Corporals
are employed to teach them the Exercise, and Maneuvres
and Marches &c.
After which Jones came on Board our ship.
This is the most ambitious and intriguing Officer in the American Navy. Jones has Art, and Secrecy, and aspires very high. You see the Character of the Man in his uniform, and that of his officers and Marines, variant from the Uniforms established by Congress. Golden Button holes, for himself -- two Epauletts -- Marines in red and white instead of Green.
Excentricities, and Irregularities are to be expected from him -- they are in his Character, they are visible in his Eyes. His Voice is soft and still and small, his Eye has keenness, and Wildness and Softness in it.
MAY 14 FRYDAY.
On Board all day, ill of a Cold. Many Gentlemen came on board to visit me. A Dr. Brooks, Surgeon to the Poor Richard, drank Tea with me. He seems to be well acquainted with Philosophical Experiments. I led him to talk upon this subject. He had much to say about Phlogiston, fixed Air, Gas &c. About absolute and sensible Heat, Experiments with the Thermometer, to shew the absolute and sensible Heat in Water, Air, Blood &c.
Finding he had Ideas of these Things, I led him to talk of the Ascent of Vapours in the Atmosphere, and I found he had considered this subject.
He mentioned a natural History of N. and S. Carolina, by Catesby in 4 Volumes folio with Stamps of all the Plants and Animals. Price 25 Guineas. He mentioned a Dr. Erving [Irvine] and a Dr. Black of Glasgow, as great Philosophers, whose Hints Priestly had taken.
This Dr. Brooks is a Gentleman of Family, whose father has a great Fortune and good Character in Virginia. Mr. Dick, Captain of Marines, on Board of Jones, is also of good family and handsome fortune in Virginia.
Mr. Gimaet came on board to visit me, Aid de Camp of the Marquis de la Fayette.
15 MAY. SATURDAY.
Went on Shore, and dined with Captain Jones at the Mess, at L'Epee Royale. Mr. Hill, Capt. Cazneau, Captn. Young, Mr. Dick, another Aid du Camp of the Marquis
Dr. Brooks &c. Mr. Gourlade &c. Gourlade married a Scotch Lady. -- Captain Jones this Morning shewed
me a Letter from Lt. Browne, desiring or rather apologizing for leaving the Ship, because of the Word (first) in M. Amiels Commission. I said, I thought Mr. Browne could not serve under M. Amiel. It would be in a manner
giving up the Claims of many Lieutenants whose Commissions were dated between his and Mr. Amiels, as well as his own and would expose him to censure. That the Word first was agreed to be inserted by the Commissioners, because We expected that either We or C. Jones would fill up the Commissions to the other Lieutenants of that Ship, and it was intended to give him an Assurance that he should be the first, on board that Ship. It was not so well considered as it ought to have been, to be sure, but could not now be helped. That however the Word first was void; it could not supercede
the Date of any former Commission. Mr. Amiel was so urgent to have it in, that it was agreed to, perhaps, too inconsiderately.
After dinner, took a Walk, out of Town, returned and went to view the two Churches, the [least?] of which has some fine Paintings. St. Joseph, St. Joachim, the Virgin, feeling the Babe leap in her Womb, at the sight of Elizabeth, and many others. Some handsome marble Pillars, and two fine Statues in Plaister of Paris.
In the Evening C.L. [Captain Landais]
chagrined -- suspecting Plots among his Officers against him. Had written to Dr. Franklin relating Things to him, &c. &c. Mr. Blodget came in and said, he had one Chest in the Ward Room, which the Officers had ordered him to take away, but as he had but one and they so many, he ventured to wait for the C's orders. That the Officers were now about to treat him better, conscious that they could not treat him worse. Today they invited him to dine in the Ward Room. But he begged Mr. Diggs [Degge]
not to invite him. They had d-d him
and he could not dine there, yet did not love to refuse, so begged off.
Such is the Danger of Favouritism, in the Government of a Ship as well as of a State. I have had the Pleasure to restore this Ship to Peace and Harmony, and am perswaded, it would have continued. But when I leave here I see plainly all will become unhappy again. There is such a Mixture of Ductility and Obstinacy in the Government of her as will not keep her together. A tender Heart and an obstinate Will sometimes go together. The C. has told M.B. of my Advice that he should not live in the Cabbin. This will raise his Resentment vs. me. And B. will be the Idol still. Yet he will continue to be excluded the Cabin, which will make it worse, for what I know.
The Captain is not of an accommodating Humour nor temper. His Resolutions when taken are without Conditions or Exceptions and unalterable, as one would think, yet sometimes too easily and too entirely altered. My Presence has had some degree of Awe upon the Capt. and all the other officers, it has made them endeavour to respect one another. But the Fire is not extinguished, it will break out again.
L. said Honour and Delicacy, are his 2d God. -- He shall die poor, and despized, -- not by those who know him. -- He is an Honest Man. This is an honest Man -- But Chagrin and Disappointment are visible in every Thing about him.
He is incapable of all Art. Has no Address or Dexterity at all in managing Men.
P.F. [Parson Ford] this Morning was upon his Fights and Battles. At such a Time he fought in N.C., such a Time in &c. Once he [fought] half an Hour in his shirt tail. Then he got his Rheumatism. Oh his Groin, his Swelling, his Pains in his Legs, Knees, joints, shoulders, his fever and Ague. If We should have a Battle and he should be sick and killed in his Bed. He had rather be killed ten times upon the Quarter deck, &c.
Coll. Wuibert tells a story. That at Angers a Bishop has been found unconsumed and uncorrupted after being buried many Years. They buried him up again, and is to be dug up again after a certain time, and if found entire, is to be made a saint. His Preservation is to be a Miracle, whereas the Truth is there is salt where he lies. This the Coll. calls Sottise.
MAY 16. SUNDAY.
Went on Shore, and dined with Mr. Moylan. Jones, Landais, Chaumont Pere et Fils, Moylan Frere, Maese, made the Company.
Maese made a sensible Observation, vizt., that he ever found five out of six of the People of England supporting the Measures of Government. That the People of America had been deceived by their Friends in England, by writing that the People were against these Measures.
Letters from England received to day, say, that the last Propositions of Spain for an Accommodation have been rejected by Government with a Kind of Humour that We have been long used to.
Went after Dinner with Mr. Chaumont, to the House of Mr Bouvet, an old Officer of Marine, a Croix de St. Louis, to see the Modell of a Seventy four Gun Ship, that he was Twenty Years in making with his own Hand. Every Sparre, Block, Rope, Iron and Timber in the true Proportions. It is fine comme un Tabatier. In his Shop he has all his Tools, his Chizzells, his Files, &c. and his turning Wheel, Glasses, Mathematical Instruments, &c.
C. [Colonel] Wuibert told us this Evening of some very ancient and curious Pictures at La Fleche. In one Situation you see H. [Henri] 4. -- in another, at a small distance you see one of his Mistresses, in another a second Mistress. In one Picture viewed from one Point you see a Man, from another Point a Beast.
C.L. told Us of a curious Grate at Nantes, which is ancient and no body knows how it was made. He also entertained Us with an Account of the Indians at Outaheite
. The most dextrous Thieves in the World, but the best natured People. Mr. Bougainvilles People sold them, Iron, nails &c. for very great Prices.
An Hog for a Deck nail, and a fowl for a Board Nail. He related several Instances of their Ingenuity, in picking Pocketts
, and stealing Nails and Bitts
of Iron. One of their Priests picked his Pocketts
of all the Nails in it, which was all his Money. And a Drol
Relation of a Single Combat between the Priest and the Indian that carried him over the River, on his shoulders, for a Nail -- which consisted in clinching their Hands together and pushing, untill
the Priest fell back, when the other gave him a Fillip upon his Forehead or Nose, which was the Tryumph
, and decided the Question about the Property of the Nail..
My Son could not comprehend why they should be so fond of Iron. He was told that Iron made the principal Difference between savage and civilised Nations. That all Arts and Manufactures depended upon Iron &c.
MAY 17. MONDAY.
L. gave Us an Account of St. George at Paris, a Molatto Man, Son of a former Governor of Guadaloupe, by a Negro Woman. He has a sister married to a Farmer General. He is the most accomplished Man in Europe in Riding, Running, Shooting, Fencing, Dancing, Musick. He will hit the Button, any Button on the Coat or Waistcoat of the greatest Masters. He will hit a Crown Piece in the Air with a Pistoll Ball.
Mr. Gimaet came on Board, to go to Port Louis with C.L. [Captain Landais]. The Affectation, in the Eyes, features, laugh, Air, gate, posture, and every Thing of this Gentleman is so striking, that I cannot but think I see C.J.Q. or C.B. whenever I see him.
Affectation proceeds from Vanity. EASE is the Opposite. Nature is easy, and simple. This Man thinks himself handsome, his Eyes, his Complexion, his Teeth, his Figure, his Step, and Air, have irresistable Charms, no doubt, in his Mind.
L. will never accomplish any great Thing. He has Honour -- Delicacy -- Integrity -- and I doubt not Courage -- and Skill, and Experience. But he has not Art. -- And I firmly believe there never was, or will be a great Character, without a great deal of Art. I am more and more convinced every day of the Innocence, the Virtue and absolute Necessity of Art and Design. -- I have arrived almost at 44 without any. I have less than L. and therefore shall do less Things than even he.
This Evening L. said that Mathematicians were never good Company. That Mathematicks made a Man unhappy. That they never were good writers.
I said no nor the Lawyers -- it had been often observed that Lawyers could not write.
L. said that Observation is not just, there are many other Instances of that besides you. -- This looks like Art, but was too obvious.
I said, the Roman Lawyers were good Writers. Justinians Institutes were pure as Classicks. Several French Lawyers had been fine Writer as Cochin, &c. and some English Lawyers as Bacon, Clarendon, Couper, Blackstone. But it was a common Observation in England, and I found it as common in Paris, that Lawyers were generally bad Writers.
MAY 18 TUESDAY.
On Board all day, reading Don Quixot.
MAY 19. WEDNESDAY.
Pleasant. My State is tedious enough, waiting for the Chevalier, and loosing Time and Wind. Expectation is a painful Posture of the Mind, and Suspence, which is a little different, is worse.
This of L'orient is a fine Port and Harbour. Men of War can come up to the Wharf, and they commonly lie not far from it. But there is no such pleasant Prospects of the Country as in Boston Harbour.
1779 MAY 20. THURSDAY.
Went ashore, met a Servant of Mr. Chaumont on the Wharf, who presented me his Masters Compliments and an Invitation to dine which I accepted.
He lodges at Monsieur who with his Lady and Daughter of Six Years, an Officer of the Navy, Mr. C., my Self and Son made the Company. A rich Dinner for so small a Company. The little Daughter of Six Years, shewed the Effects of early Culture. She sung at Table at my Desire several Songs, with great Ease and Judgment. She behaved as easily, as her mother, her Wit flowed and her Tongue run. Her Countenance was disciplined. Her Eyes and Lips were at her Command. She was very respectful to the Company and very attentive to Decency.
Mr. C. went afterwards with me, to see a Magazine of Medicines belonging to the King, a very large Store, in order to get some Jesuits Bark, the best Kind of which I found was Seventeen Livres a Pound.
Found a Courier de l'Europe of the 7th. May. Paliser acquitted, tho reprehended, not unanimously nor honourably. Moultrie's Letter of the 4 Feb. to Lincoln and Putnams to Washington of 2. March.
It is said in this Paper that 121 Privateers and Letters of Marque from 6 to 36 Guns, have been fitted out at N. York,
1,976 Guns, 9,680 Men, and that they have taken 165 Prizes. This must be exagerated
The 1st of May, the fleet at Portsmouth of more than 400 Sail for N. York, Quebec, Newfoundland and Ireland, put to Sea, convoyed by 6 ships of the Line, besides Frigates and armed Transports.
Mr. Ingraham and Mr. Merrick dined with me, in the Cabbin.
Went ashore. Dr. W. [Windship] revealed to me, a Secret concerning the Parson. -- Good God! . . . He is confident. He knows. -- The Rheumatism never touches the Glands. It is a confirmed --. He says, that B. [Blodget] knows so too. -- It must come to an Head. It will break. It will be two months at least. He has purged himself off his Legs. Has exhausted himself by Purges.
(It gets into the Circulations -- breaks out in Knots under the Arms -- eats away the Roof [of] the Mouth -- affects the Nose -- if it seises the Lungs, &c.) A Man of his Cloth. His Character is ruined &c.
This is the innocent, the virtuous, the religious &c. This is melancholly, and humiliating indeed! There is English Beauty, at Paris -- English Charmes as well as french. Innocence, Simplicity is not Proof against the Arts of Paris. Simplicity is a Prey -- and Virtue is melted away, by Wine and Artifice. . . .
Coll. Wuibert drank Tea with me alone this Evening. I had a long, free and familiar Conversation with him in french and he made me the Compliment several Times to say that I spoke french very well, that I understood French perfectly, that I had happily succeeded, tres heureusement reussi in learning French, that I spoke it fluently, &c. This flattery was uttered with as much Simplicity as the Duchess D'Anville.
I understood him, perfectly, every Word he said altho he commonly speaks very indistinctly.
He says that he was several Times with the Solicitor General Wedderburne in London. That Wedderburne speaks and writes french, very correctly. That he told him, he had spent a dozen Years at Paris and made many journeys there besides. That he treated him, with great Politeness, beaucoup d'honntete. That he had a List of all the American Prisoners, with Notes against their Names. That he brought Letters for W. to some of the family of M. de Noailles, the late Ambassador.
That We have many friends in London. That he liked London better than Paris, because the Walking was better, the Streets were cleaner, and there were Accommodations, on each Side, for People on foot.
That he has been two hundred Leagues to see his father and family who live in Champagne, near the frontiers of the Queen of Hungarys Dominions.
He ran over the Streets in Paris that were commonly the most embarrassed, with Carriages. -- C'est un Cahos, &c. -- He has promised to look for me after Vignol's Architecture, &c.
We fell upon the Subject of Religion and Devotion on board the Men of War. Every french Man of War has a Chaplain who says Prayers Morning and Evening, regularly. I wished that ours were as regular.
We fell upon the Subject of Swearing. I asked him, if the french Sailors swore? He said chaque Instant, every Moment. That H. [Henri] 4. swore a great deal. Ventre St. Gris -- litterally, holy grey belly. I asked him if this originally alluded to the Vierge. He believed not. I told him that most of the Oaths had originally Relation to Religion, and explained to him Zounds -- G-ds Zounds -- His Wounds -- Gods Wounds. s blood and wounds -- His Blood and Wounds -- relating to Christ. He said this made him shudder.
Ma foi, Faith, par dieu, &c. It is amazing how Men get the Habit of using these Words, without thinking. I see no Difference between F. [French] and E. [English] on this Account.
This afternoon, C.L. brought seven or Eight French Gentlemen on board to see the ship, who all admired her. They were genteel, well bred Men.
This Man has a Littleness in his Mien and Air. His face is small and sharp. So that you form a mean Opinion of him from the first Sight. Yet his Eye is good. He maintained a good Character among the American Prisoners, and you find by close Conversation with him that he has a good deal in him of Knowledge.
Waited in the Morning on Mr. Chaumont, agreed to go tomorrow Morning, on board the Sensible to make my Visit to the Commander. Went to the Lodging of Mr. Ingraham and Blodget. where about 8 or 10 Americans Breakfast every Morning and drink Punch every Evening.
Took a Walk with Mr. Ingraham about the Town and then went and dined with Mr. Puchelberg. This is a modest and a decent German. He says there is no Protestant Church here. All is Levity, Legerete. He says this Town is perdu. Amour, Jeu, et Vin, ruin all the Women. The Women drink Brandy like Water.
He says that France is capable of nourishing 48, or 50 Millions of People, but it is not half cultivated. The People are light and lazy.
At Bourdeaux there are 40,000 Protestants -- but have no Church. The Workmen, Artisans &c. are Protestants.
This Man has a Laugh and a Grin, and a BrowBow that are very particular. His Grin is good natured, his Laugh is complaisant, his Bow is aukward to the last degree.
The Peasants in this Country are lazy, and no Wonder, for those who work the whole Year in planting Vines and in making Wine, are obliged to drink Water.
There are many Protestants here, who ne croient pas rien. Ils sont Ath e.
Went with Mr. Chaumont to make my Visit to the Captain of the Sensible
, the Frigate in which I am to embark, and was civilly received. Went next on Board the Pallas, where we breakfasted with the officers, and then viewed the Ship. Went next on board the Poor Richard and took another look at her. Went ashore and dined with C. Jones. The Captain of the Pallas
dined there and an Officer of his Marines.
Mr. Maese, Mr. Dick, Mr. Hill, Captn. Parks &c.
The Sensible has 28 twelve Pounders upon one deck.
1779 JUNE 1ST.
Dined on Shore at the Coffee House with Jones, Landais, the two Aids de Camp of the Marquis de la Fayette, Capt. Cotineau.
JUNE 2D. WEDNESDAY.
Dined on Board the Sensible, at the Invitation of the Captn. Mr. Chavan [Chavagnes], with Mr. Thevenard, Mr. Grandville, Mr. Chaumont, &c. &c.
On fait, et defait -- mande et contremand. "A Strong Fleet is necessary to defend the Port of Brest."
This Observation, which I had never heard before, struck me. The Dry Docks might be destroyed, the Stores burnt or demolished, the Magazines destroyed, &c. unless the Place could be defended, by the Castle and other Fortifications, with the Land Forces.
1779. JUNE 8. TUESDAY.
Yesterday I sent one Boat with some of my Things, and this Morning another with the Remainder, on Board the Sensible.
Landais has torn open the old Sore, and in my Opinion, has now ruined the Peace of this Ship
He has [an]
unhappy Mind. He must ever have something to complain of -- something to peave
and fret about. He is jealous.
1779 SATURDAY [12 JUNE].
Last night, the Chevalier de La Luzerne arrived, [and] took Lodgings at the Epee Royal, in a Chamber opposite to mine up two Pair of Stairs. He did me the Honour, together with Monsieur Marbois, his Secretary, or rather the Secretary of the Commission, in my Chamber this Morning, and invited me to dine, with him in his Chamber with my Son. The Ambassador, the Secretary, Mr. Chaumont, my Son and myself, made the Company. The Chevalier informs me that he dined with me once, at Count Sarsefields.
I went in the Morning to the Lodging of Monsr. Marbois
. He was out, but I found his two Clerks, one of them speaks English very well. They observed to me, that I had been waiting a long time. I said Yes, long enough to have
made a sentimental journey through the Kingdom. -- This pleased the English Secretary very much. He said Yoricks Sentimental journey was a very fine Thing, a charming Piece. I said Yes and that Sterne
was the sweetest, kindest, tenderest Creature in the World, and that there was a rich Stream of Benevolence flowing like Milk and Honey, thro
all his Works.
M. Marbois shewed me, a Paper from Philadelphia of the 16 Feb. in which is a long Piece, with the Name of Mr. Paine. In it is the Letter, which I remember very well from M.D. proposing P. Ferdinand or M-B- to command in Chief. The Name was mentioned of a Marshall, whom I have often heard [Deane] say was one of the greatest Generals in Europe. This is curious -- bien extraordinaire, one of the Gentlemen said.
After Dinner, I took a Walk in the Wood.
Beggars, Servants, Garcons, Filles, Decroteurs, Blanchisseuses. Barges, Batteaux, Bargemen. Coffee houses, Taverns. Servants at the Gates of Woods and Walks. Fruit, Cakes. Ice Creams. Spectacles. Tailors for setting a Stitch in Cloaths. Waiters for running with Errands, Cards &c. Cabbin Boys. Coach Hire. Walking Canes. Pamphlets. Ordonances. Carts.
1779. JUNE 17. THURSDAY
At 6 O Clock this Morning, Monsieur Chavan, Capitain of the Sensible, sent his Canot, on Shore for me, and mine, and here I am, in full Possession of my Apartment.
Sailed about 3 o Clock, in Company with the Bon Homme Richard Captain Jones, the Alliance Captain Landais, the Captain Young, the Captain Cazneau, the Courier de L'Europe Capt.
The Three Friends Capt. Colman, belonging to Mr. Williams of Nantes, which is loaded with a large Quantity of the Chevaliers Baggage, was missing. The Chev. [Chevalier] discovered a good deal of sensibility at this. The whole Fleet is obliged to wait for this Captain Colman and loose this fair Wind.
The Chevalier has an Appartment about 8 Feet long and six Wide, upon the Starboard Side of the Quarter Deck. I have another of the same Dimensions, directly opposite to him, on the Larboard. Next behind the Chevalier is the Cabin of the Captain Monsieur Chavan. Next behind me is the Cabbin of the second in Command of the Frigate. And behind us all at the stern is a larger Room, the Passage Way to which lies between the Chevaliers and the Captains Cabin on one Side, and mine and the Seconds on the other.
In this larger Room, which extends the whole Width of the Quarter Deck, all the Company loll and converse by day. Monsieur Marbois and my little son hang their Cotts there and sleep at night. All the Officers and all the Company, dine, below, in what is called the grand Cabbin.
The Chevalier is a large, and a strong Man, has a singular Look with his Eyes. Shutts his Eye Brows Lids, &c.
M. Marbois the Secretary, is a tall, genteel Man and has a Countenance extreamly pleasant. He has the Appearance of Delicacy, in his Constitution . . . .
Mr. Marbois has two Persons with him, one a French Secretary, the other a Secretaire interprete, who speaks and writes English.
The Maitre D'Hotel has his Wife with him. She seems a well bred Woman. . . .
We are to speak English. This is the Agreement, but there are so few who can speak a Word of English, that 9/10 of the Conversation in spight of our Intentions and Engagements runs into French. We have on board a Dictionary of the Marine, so that We shall soon understand the Names of Things and Actions on Board.
Brown of the Manufactory, is on Board as Pilot for the American Coast. He has received fifty Guineas for it. Such is the Reward for making
a Stand, manfully, 10 or 11 Years ago. I told the Story to the Che. [Chevalier]
who was much pleased with the Narration.
Mr. Hill also, first Lieutenant of the Alliance is on Board but I know not by whose Influence. C. Jones or M. Chau. [Chaumont] probably.
1779. JUNE 18. FRYDAY
This Morning, the Monsieur a french Privateer, which sailed out from L'orient as We went into it in the Alliance, came in with four English Prizes, having made Six this Cruise. She and her Prizes saluted the Sensible, and their Salutes were returned.
Received a Card from Mr. Williams 3d., apologising for the 3 friends that the Pilot refused to take charge of her untill the Morning.
I asked a Gentleman how he slept. -- Very badly, dans le Sainte Barbe. -- Il faut chercher cet mot la, said I, dans le Dictionaire de Marine. -- He ran and brought it and found Le Sainte Barbe to be the Gun Room. -- Connoissez vous Etymologie Monsieur, said he -- Que non, said I.
Sainte Barbe is the Tutelary Sainte of the Cannoniers -- Gunners. Each Trade has its Patron. The Shoemakers have Sainte Crispin, &c. and the Gunners Sainte Barbe.
The Sainte Barbe therefore is the Gunroom or the Salle D'Armes, Place of Arms.
There are 9 Persons who sleep in the Sainte Barbe.
The Serruriers have chosen St. Cloud for their Patron, &c.
Mr. Marbois discovered an Inclination to day to slide into Conversation with me, to day. I fell down the Stream with him, as easily as possible. He hoped Thought the Alliance beneficial, to both Countries, and hoped it would last forever. I agreed that the Alliance was usefull to both, and hoped it would last. I could not foresee any Thing that should interrupt the Friendship. Yes, recollecting myself, I could foresee several Things that might interrupt it. -- Ay what were they? I said it was possible, a King of France might arise, who being a wicked Man might make Attempts to corrupt the Americans. A King of France hereafter might have a Mistress, that might mislead him, or a bad Minister. I said I could foresee another Thing that might interrupt endanger our Confederation. -- What was that? -- The Court of France, I said, might, or their Ambassadors or Consuls might, attach themselves to Individuals or Parties, in America, so as to endanger our Union. -- He caught at this, with great Avidity, and said it was a great Principle, not to join with any Party. It was the K's Determination and the Chevaliers, not to throw the Weight of the French Court into the Scale of any Individual or Party.
He said, he believed, or was afraid, it had been done: but it was disapproved by the King and would not be done again. . . . He said that the Chevalier and himself would have the favour of the greatest Part, the Generality of the honest People in France, altho there would be Individuals against them.
He said He hoped the United States would not think of becoming Conquerors. I said it was impossible they should for many Ages. It would be Madness in them to think of conquering foreign Countries, while they had an immense Territory, near them uncultivated. That if any one State should have a fancy for going abroad it would be the Interest of all the rest and their Duty to hinder her. -- He seemed to be pleased with this.
He said We would explain ourselves wholly, on the Passage. I said, with all my Heart, for I had no Secrets.
All this Conversation was in french, but he understood me, very well, and I him.
He said Mr. Gerard was a Man of Wit, and had an Advantage of them in understanding the Language very well and speaking it easily. I said I believed not much. I had heard it affirmed, by some, that Mr. Gerard spoke English perfectly, but by others, very indifferently. That it was often affirmed that Mr. Franklin spoke French as fluently and elegantly, as a Courtier at Versailles, but every Man that knew and spoke sincerely, agreed that he spoke it
very ill. Persons spoke of these Things, according to their Affections.
He said it was Flattery. That he would not flatter, it was very true that both Mr. F. and I spoke french, badly.
A Cutter and a Lugger, hove in Sight, about Noon, and dogged about all the afternoon.
Mr. Marbois began with me, again this Afternoon. Enquired who was Dr. Bancroft -- Who Dr. Berkenhout? &c &c.
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1779. JUNE 18. FRYDAY.
The orders are to breakfast at 10. dine at 5. and sup at 10.
The two Privateers, which were in Sight Yesterday, are so still with two others.
Our Captain at length laid too, hoisted his Colours and fired a Gun as a Challenge. One of them hoisted English Colours and fired a Gun, which I suppose was accepting the Challenge. Our Captain gave her two Broad Sides, for the Sake of exercising his Men, and some of his Balls went beyond her, some before and some behind her. I cannot say that any one hit, but there were two which went so well that it is possible they might. It is certain they were frightened, for upon our wearing to give her chase all 4 of them were about in an Instant and run. -- But at Evening there were several others in Sight.
Two Privateers have been in sight all this day. One advanced, and fired several Guns in order to make Us hoist our Colours. But Captain Chavan would not do them that Honour. They are afraid to come near. But this it is. Every day We have a No. in Sight, so that there is no Chance for a Vessell to pass without Convoy.
Our Captain Mr. Chavan has a Cross of St. Louis, and one of his Midshipmen has a Cross of St. Louis. His second has none -- he is a youth of 18 or 19, an Enseigne du Vesseau, and very able for his Years. He has a fine Countenance.
The Chevalier de la Luzerne, and M. Marbois are in raptures with my Son. They get him to teach them the Language. I found this Morning the Ambassador, Seating on the Cushing in our State Room, Mr. Marbois in his Cot at his left Hand and my Son streched out in his at his Right -- The Ambassador reading out loud, in Blackstones Discourse, at his Entrance on his Professorship of the Common Law at the University, and my Son correcting the Pronunciation of every Word and Syllable and Letter. The Ambassador said he was astonished, at my Sons Knowledge. That he was a Master of his own Language like a Professor. Mr. Marbois said your Son teaches Us more than you. He has Point de Grace -- Point d'Eloges. He shews us no Mercy, and makes Us no Compliments. We must have Mr. John.
This Evening had a little Conversation with the Chevalier, upon our American Affairs, and Characters, Mr. Samuel Adams, Mr. Dickinson, Mr. Jay -- and upon American Eloquence in Congress and Assemblies as well as in Writing. He admired our Eloquence. I said that our Eloquence was not corrected. It was the Time of Ennius
, with Us. That Mr. Dickinson and Mr. Jay had Eloquence, but it was not so chaste, nor pure, nor nervous as that of Mr. Samuel Adams. That this last had written some things, that would be admired more than any Thing that has been written in America in this Dispute. -- He enquired after Mr. Dickinson, and the Reason why he disappeared. I explained, as well as I could in French, the Inconsistency of the Farmers Letters and his Perseverance in that Inconsistency in Congress. Mr. Dickensons Opposition to the Declaration of Independancy
. I ventured as modestly as I could to let him know that I had the Honour
to be the Principal Disputant in Congress against Mr. Dickinson upon that great Question. That Mr. Dickinson had the Eloquence, the Learning and the Ingenuity on his Side of the Question, but that I had the Hearts of the Americans on mine, and therefore my Side of the Question prevailed. That Mr. Dickinson had a good Heart, and an amiable Character. But that his
Opposition to Independency, had lost him the Confidence of the People, who [illegible]
suspected him of Timidity and Avarice, and that his Opposition sprung from those Passions: But that he had since turned out with the Militia, against the B. [British]
Troops and I doubted not might in Time regain the Confidence of the People.
I said that Mr. Jay was a Man of Wit, well informed, a good Speaker and an elegant Writer but that I should not. The Chevalier said perhaps he will not be President when We arrive. He accepted only for a short Time. I said I should not be sorry to hear of his Resignation, because I did not much esteem the Means by which he was advanced to the Chair, it appearing to me that he came in by the Efforts of a Faction at that Moment dominant by Means of an Influence which I was afraid to mention. That I did not care to say what I thought of it.
We fell into a great deal of other Conversation this 21. Monday Mr. Marbois told me this Morning Evening upon Litterature, and Eloquence ancient and modern, Demosthenes, Cicero, the Poets, Historians, Philosophers. The English, Bacon, Newton &c. Milton &c.
He said Milton was very ancient. I said no, in the Reign of Charles and the Protectorship of Cromwell and the Reign of Charles the Second. -- He thought it was much more ancient.
I said there were three Epochas in the English History celebrated for great Men. -- The Reign of Elizabeth, the Reign of C. [Charles] I. and the Interregnum, and the Reign of Queen Anne.
The C. said Ld. Bolinbroke was a great Man. I said
Yes and the greatest Orator that England ever produced.
Mr. Marbois upon this said, it would be easy in France to produce an Orator equal to Bolinbroke. I asked who? John Jac. [Jacques?] -- No, Malesherbes. Malesherbes Orations might be placed on a Footing with Demosthenes and Cicero.
MONDAY JUNE 21.
This Morning I found Mr. Marbois
recovered of his Sea Sickness. I [illegible]
I fell into Conversation with him, about his illness, advised a Dish of Tea, which he readily accepted, told him he must learn to drink Tea in America in order to please the Ladies, who all drank Tea. That the american Ladies shone at the Tea Table. He said, he had heard they were very amiable and of agreable
Conversation. I said Yes, but they could not dance, nor sing, nor play Musick
, nor dress so well as the European Ladies. But they had Wit and Sense and Virtue. -- After a great deal of Chat like this, I asked him -- Sir you mentioned last night Malsherbes Orations. Who and What was Malesherbes? -- He said Malsherbes was President of the Court of Aids, [illegible]
during the Disputes between the late King and the Parliament of Paris. That he made his orations in the Course of those Disputes. That most of them were not printed, only a few of the latter ones were printed in the Newspapers. That He was banished by the late King with the Parliament, and after the Accession of the present King was recalled and made one of his Ministers, in which Place he continued 18 Months.
But finding Things were likely to take a Turn not perfectly agreable
to his Mind and that he could not continue in Place with Honour and
he resigned and lives a private Life in Paris and is happy. He is the Son of a Late Chancellor De la moignon de Males herbes, who was a famous Man. He goes by the Name of De la Moignon. He died about five Years ago, and it was thought his Son would take the same Name of La moignon, but he choses to go by that of Malesherbes. He is a great Man, an intimate Friend of Mr. De Turgot. Mr. Malesherbes is Uncle to the Chevalier de la Luzerne. I have dined twice, within a few Weeks past, with Mr. Franklin at the House of Mr. Malesherbes, and once with him at Mr. Franklins. The Acquaintance was formed upon Occasion of the Appointment of the C. De la Luzerne to go to America.
I lamented that I had not seen Mr. Malesherbes, said that I had the Pleasure to dine often with Mr. Turgot at his House and at ours. That Mr. Franklin was very intimate with Mr. Turgot, who I thought was a very good Man. -- Yes says Mr. Marbois
, but a little too systematical and a little too enthusiastical . . . . I said Enthusiasm was sometimes a very good Quality, at least very usefull
. -- Not for a Minister, says M.M. -- Yes for a Minister, in some Cases, and Circumstances. -- Ay says he, at sometimes when he can communicate
his Enthusiasm to All about him. But at others when his Enthusiasm will be opposed by Millions of People of great Weight, it will not do.
I am very happy to hear of these Connections. I shall discover more of them yet. This Mr. Marbois is one of the best informed, and most reflecting Men I have known in France. I warrant I shall have much Pleasure in his Conversation.
About Three O Clock, the Chevalier and I walking upon Deck, he took me under the Arm, and told me, he had something to communicate to me, which he had bound himself in Honour not to communicate, while he was in France.
Les Espagnols viennent, de se declarer. -- Comment, said I? -- Aux Anglois said the Chevalier. They have declared that the Court of London having rejected all the Propositions for Peace, which they had made, they were now determined to declare them selves
on the side of France, and to assist them with all their Force by Land and Sea, in every Part of the World, and accordingly they have ordered 17 Ships of the Line or 19 to join the Comte D'orvilliere, making up 50 Sail, in the whole. They have a Minister in America, at Congress. And they are to concert with Congress all their military Operations. Without saying any Thing about the Independance
of America. -- Je ne comprend pas le Politique D'Espagne said I. (This instantly struck me disagreably
. I am jealous of some Scheme. The Subtilty
, the Invention, the profound Secrecy, the Absolute Silence of these European Courts, will be too much for our hot, rash, fiery Ministers, and for our indolent, inattentive ones, tho
as silent as they.) This within Crochets was not said, but is a Reflection of my own. The Chevalier added, The Basis of every Proposition for Peace that Spain has made was, an Acknowledgement of the Independance
He added farther, We i.e. the french have within this Month offered, that if the English would withdraw their Troops from N. York, Rhode Island and Long Island all Things should remain as they were. -- Note, this I dont understand. What becomes of Georgia? What was to become of the Sea War? &c.
The Chevalier added, this was rejected by the Court of London. . . .
By this it appears, the Court of Spain have given Mr. Lee the Go by. They may have made a Treaty with Congress by their Ambassador there.
I said the English would make great Depredations upon the Spanish Trade. -- How, says the Chev. [Chevalier]? -- By their little Cutters and Luggers said I. -- Oh the Spaniards, said he, dont make an active Commerce like the French. Their Commerce is made in large Vessells, and always well escorted.
This News operates upon my Mind, like the Affair of Sarratoga. It is not good enough and therefore, the Disappointment makes me Melancholly.
The Chevalier said one other Thing worth Remembrance. He said that The Americans did not know, what their Commerce with France would be. The great and able Merchants had not yet traded to America. Who is it, said He, that has traded to America, but a Parcell of little Rascals, petits Coquins, and Adventurers who have sold the worst Merchandises, for great Prices. -- This Conversation was all in french and may not be perfectly translated, but I believe it is.
I have much Satisfaction in reflecting, that the Chevalier [illegible] in all the Conversations I have yet had with the Chevalier, no unguarded Word has escaped me. I have conversed with that Frankness that makes a Part of my Character, but have said nothing that I did not mean to say.
I find a Gentleman in the Suit of the Chevalier, in the Character of Interpreter and English Master who has written a large Volume upon English Pronunciation and Accent. His Name is Carr.
JUNE 22. TUESDAY.
We have had a fine Wind ever since We came out of L'orient, but it blows fresher today than ever. Yet We go but about 5 Knots, because being obliged to wait for the Three Friends, and the Foudroyant, which sail slow, We cannot carry Sail. With all our Sails We might now go eleven Knots. This is Mercantile Politicks of C. [Chaumont] and W. [Williams] in getting the Chevaliers Baggage on Board those Ships.
The Chevalier de la Luzerne, the other day at Mr. De Thevenards Table, gave a terrible Stroke to M. Chaumont. Chaumont said, M. Franklin parle Francais bien. -- Oh que non, said the Chevalier, fort mal. Mr. Adams parle mieux que lui. -- Yesterday, in a long Conversation with the Chevalier, on the Quarter Deck, he said to me, Vous connoissez [illegible] les Fondemens de notre Langue tres bien. Vous parlez lentement et avec difficulte, comme un homme qui cherche pour les mots: mais vous ne pechez pas contre la Prononciation. Vous prononcez bien. Vous prononcez, beaucoup mieux que Mr. Franklin. Il est impossible de l'entendre.
Mr. Marbois, with whom I fell into Conversation, this Afternoon very easily upon Deck, said a great many Things that deserve Notice.
He said that Mr. Franklin had a great many Friends among the Gens des Lettres in France, who make a great Impression in France, that he had Beaucoup des Agremens, Beaucoup de Charlatagnerie, that he has Wit: But that he is not a Statesman. That he might be recalled at this Moment, and in that Case, that his Opinion was he would not return to America -- But would stay in Paris.
That he heard many of the honest People in France lament that I left France, particularly the Count
and the Marquis de
. That I might possibly return to France or to some other Part of Europe. That the Court of France would have Confidence in any Gentleman, that Congress should appoint
have Confidence in. That there ought to be a [illegible] Charge des Affairs
or a Secretary, and a successor pointed out, in Case of the Death of Dr. F.
Mr. Marbois said some were of opinion, that as I was not recalled, I ought to have staid untill I was.
I told him that if Congress had directed me to return, I would have returned. If they had directed me to stay untill further orders I should have staid. But as they reduced me to a private Citizen I had no other Duties but those of a private Citizen to fulfill, which were to go home as soon as possible and take Care of my family. Mr. Franklin advised me to take a journey to Geneva. My own Inclinations would have led me to Holland: But I thought my Honour concerned to return directly home. -- He said I was right.
In the Evening I fell into Chat with the Chevalier. He asked me, about Governeur Morris
. I said it was his Christian Name -- that he was not Governor. The Chevalier said He had heard of him as an able Man. I said he was a young Man, chosen into Congress since I left it. That I had sat some Years with his Elder Brother in Congress. That Governeur
was a Man of Wit, of
and made pretty Verses -- but of a Character trs legere.
That the Cause of America had not been sustained by such Characters as that of Governor Morris or his Colleague Mr. Jay, who also was a young Man about 30
and not quite so solid as his Predicessor
Mr. Laurence [Laurens]
, upon whose Resignation in the sudden Heat Mr. Jay was chosen. That Mr. Lawrence had a great landed Fortune free from Debt, that he had long Experience in public life and an amiable Character for Honour
And Probity. That he is between 50 and 60 Years of Age.
JUNE 23. WEDNESDAY.
This Forenoon, fell strangely, yet very easily into Conversation with M.M.
I went up to him -- M.M. said I, how many Persons have you in your Train and that of the Chevalier who speak the German Language? Only my Servant, said he, besides myself and the Chev. -- It will be a great Advantage to you said I in America, especially in Pensilvania, to be able to speak German. There is a great Body of Germans in P. [Pennsylvania] and M. [Maryland]. There is a vast Proportion of the City of Philadelphia, of this Nation who have their Churches in it, two of which one Lutheran the other Calvinist, are the largest and most elegant Churches in the City, frequented by the most numerous Congregations, where the Worship is all in the German Language.
Is there not one Catholic, said M.M.? Not a German Church said I. There is a Roman catholic Church in Philadelphia, a very decent Building, frequented by a respectable Congregation, consisting partly of Germans, partly of French and partly of Irish. -- All Religions are tolerated in America, said M.M., and the Ambassadors have in all Courts a Right to a Chappell in their own Way. But Mr. Franklin never had any. -- No said I, laughing, because Mr. F. had no -- I was going to say, what I did not say, and will not say here. I stopped short and laughed. -- No, said Mr. M., Mr. F. adores only great Nature, which has interested a great many People of both Sexes in his favour. -- Yes, said I, laughing, all the Atheists, Deists and Libertines, as well as the Philosophers and Ladies are in his Train -- another Voltaire and Hume. -- Yes said Mr. M., he is celebrated as the great Philosopher and the great Legislator of America. -- He is said I a great Philosopher, but as a Legislator of America he has done very little. It is universally believed in France, England and all Europe, that his Electric Wand has accomplished all this Revolution but nothing is more groundless. He has [done] very little. It is believed that he made all the American Constitutions, and their Confederation. But he made neither. He did not even make the Constitution of Pensylvania, bad as it is. The Bill of Rights is taken almost verbatim from that of Virginia, which was made and published two or three Months before that of Philadelphia was begun. It was made by Mr. Mason, as that of Pensilvania was by Timothy Matlack, James Cannon and Thomas Young and Thomas Paine. Mr. Sherman of Connecticutt [A mistake for Dickinson of Pennsylvania, though Sherman was a member of the committee appointed to draft the Articles, 12 June 1776.] and Dr. F. made an Essay towards a Confederation about the same Time. Mr. Shermans was best liked, but very little was finally adopted from either, and the real Confederation was not made untill a Year after Mr. F. left America, and but a few Days before I left Congress.
Who, said the Chevalier, made the Declaration of Independance? Mr. Jefferson of Virginia, said I, was the Draughtsman. The Committee consisted of Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Franklin, Mr. Harrison, Mr. R. and myself, [A double mistake. The committee appointed on 11 June 1776 to draft a Declaration of Independence consisted of Jefferson, JA, Franklin, Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston, in that order.] and We appointed by Jefferson a subcommittee to draw it up.
I said that Mr. Franklin had great Merit as a Philosopher. His Discoveries in Electricity were very grand, and he certainly was a Great Genius, and had great Merit in our American Affairs. But he had no Title to the Legislator of America.
Mr. M. said he had Wit and Irony, but these were not the Faculties of Statesmen. His Essay upon the true Means of [bringing] a great Empire to be a small one was very pretty. -- I said he had wrote many Things, which had great Merit and infinite Wit and Ingenuity. His bonhomme Richard was a very ingenious Thing, which had been so much celebrated in France, gone through so many Ad Editions, and been recommended by Curates and Bishops to so many Parishes and Diocesses.
Mr. M. asked, are natural Children admitted in America to all Priviledges
like Children born in Wedlock. -- I answered they are not Admitted to the Rights of Inheritance. But their fathers may give them Estates by Testament and they are not excluded from other Advantages. -- In France, said M.M., they are not admitted into the Army nor any Office in Government. -- I said they were not excluded from Commissions in the Army, Navy, or State, but they were always attended with a Mark of Disgrace. -- M.M. said this, No doubt, in Allusion to Mr. Fs. natural Son and natural Son of a natural Son. I let myself thus freely into this Conversation being led on
naturally by the Chevalier and Mr. Marbois
, on Purpose because I am sure it cannot be my Duty nor the Interest of my Country that I should conceal any of my sentiments of this Man, at the same Time that I due
Justice to his Merits. It would be worse than Folly to conceal my Opinion of his great Faults.
JUNE 24. THURSDAY.
Mr. Marbois told a Story of an Ecclesiastic, who pronounced a funeral oration on Marshall Saxe. -- He compared him to Alcides, who ballanced long whether he should follow the Path of Virtue or of Sloth, and at last chose the former. But Saxe, after ballancing long, did better by determining to follow both, i.e. Pleasure and Virtue.
This Evening I went into our State Room, where I found Mr. Marbois, alone. -- Mr. Marbois, said I, what Books are the best to give a Stranger an Idea of the Laws and Government of France. -- I shall surprise you, Sir, said M. Marbois, and I shall make you laugh: But there is no other, but the Almanack Royal. -- You say this, said I laughing on purpose to make me laugh. -- No says he there are is no Droit public in France. There are different Customs and Prerogatives in different Provinces. . . . But if you wish I should talk with you, more seriously, there are several Books in which there are some good Notions upon this subject. There are 4 Volumes by Boulainvilliers, [illegible] of Observations sur l'ancient Gouvernement de France, and 4 Volumes more by the Abby De Fleury on the same Subject. -- He ran over a great deal more concerning the Salique Law and the Capitula Regnum francorum &c., which I will be more particular with him about another Time. I mentioned Domat. He said it was excellent on the civil Law: but had little on the Droit public.
How happened it, said I, M.M., that I never saw you at Paris. You have, said he. -- Ay where? said I. I dont remember it. -- I dined with you said he at the Count Sarsefields. -- I said there was a great deal of Company, but that I had never seen any one of them before. They were all Strangers: but I remember the Count told me, they were all Men of Letters.
There were four Ladies, said M. Marbois, the handsomest of which was the Countess de la Luzerne, the Wife of the Count de la Luzerne. The Count himself was there, who is the Eldest Brother of the Chevalier de la Luzerne. There was another Lady there, who is not handsome and was never married. She is a Sister. -- She was the Lady who sat at my left Hand at Table, said I, and was very sociable. I was charmed with her Understanding, altho I thought she was not handsome.
There was a Gentleman there, said I, who asked me if the Mahometan
Religion was tolerated in America? I understood he bad been in Constantinople, as Ambassador or Secretary to some Embassy. And there was a Bishop there, who came in after Dinner. -- Yes said he, he is the Bishop of Langres, another Brother of the Chevalier de la Luzerne. -- I fell, said I, unaccountably into a Dispute with that Bishop. He sat down by me, and fell into Conversation about the English and their Conduct, in America. In the Course of the Con.
I said it was the Misfortune of the English that there was no consistent Character among those in Opposition to the Court. No Man who would Adhere to his Principles. The two
Hows were in Opposition to the Ministry and the American War Measures
. But when the Honor and Emoluments of Command were offered them, they accepted to serve under that Ministry and in support of those Measures. Even Keppell, who refused to serve vs.
America, was induced to serve vs.
France, who were only supporting the Americans. -- The Bishop said it was the Will of the K. [King]
that must controul
public officers. -- I said, an officer should beg to be excused, or resign the
rather than serve against his Conscience. -- He said the King's Will must govern. -- I said it was a Doctrine I could not understand. -- There was a Gentleman present who attended to our Conversation in silence, till this when he said c'est un Doctrine Ecclesiastique, Monseigneur L'Eveque, said he, laughing.
This Bishop, said Mr. Marbois, is no slave, he is a Man of free sentiments. He is Duke et Pair. There are three Bishops, who are Dukes and Peers and Three others who are Counts and Peers, who are always present at the Consecration of our Kings. The Bishop of Langres is one. The Dukes of Normandy, and of Burgundy, used to be present, but as there are not at present, Monsieur and the Count D'Artois represented them at the Consecration of the present King, about 4 Years ago. The origin of the Custom is not known.
The Chevalier de la Luzerne, said I, is of an high Family. -- Yes, said Mr. Marbois, he is of an ancient Family, who have formerly had in it Cardinals and Marechalls of France, but not lately. They were now likely to regain their Splendor for the Three Brothers are all very well at Court.
JUNE 28 MONDAY.
We have been favoured, in our Voyage hitherto, beyond my utmost Expectations. We have enjoyed an a Succession of favourable Winds and Weather, from the Time of our leaving L'orient to this Moment.
The Discipline, on Board this Ship, is a constant Subject of Speculation to me. I have seen no Punishments inflicted, no Blows struck, nor heard scarcely an Angry Word spoken, from the Captain to any of his officers, or from any of the officers to the Men. They live together in greater Intimacy and Familiarity than any Family I ever saw. The Galliard or Quarter Deck, seems to be as open to the foremast Men as the Captain. Captain, all other Officers, the Ambassador, his Train, Common Sailors, and domestic Servants are all walking upon Deck, and sitting round upon Seats on it, upon a footing of perfect Equality that is not seen in one of our Country Town Meetings in America. I never saw so much Equality and Levelling in any Society, whatever. Strange Contrast to a British, or even an American Frigate. Landais is a great Mogul, in Comparison of Chevan.
One of the Officers have favoured me with the following
de la Fregate du Roy la Sensible.
|Bid de Chavaigne, Capitaine de Vaisseaux
||Commandant la Fregate. |
|Le Chevalier de Goabriant [Go sbriand], Enseigne de Vaisseaux
||Lieutenant de Fregate pour la Campagne. |
|Le Chevalier D'Arriardant.
|Le Chevalier de Pincaire.
|| idem |
| Du Breville.
|| idem |
Garde la Marine
|Le Chevalier de Guerivierre |
|La Roche de St. Andr. |
|Berg rac Chirurgien Major |
|Le Pere Usem Capucin et Aumonier |
The Diversions on Board the Ship are very curious. The Officers and Men sing and dance in a Ring round the Capstain, on the Quarter deck, in fine Weather. The Men are in Parties at Cards in all Parts of the Ship.
1779. JUNE 30. WEDNESDAY.
Mr. Marbois, this Morning, upon my Enquiry, told me, that the Chevalier de la Luzerne is the Grandson of the famous Chancelier de la Moignon by his Mothers Side. That the Marchall Broglie is a Cousin to the Chevalier.
He also told me, that he himself, Mr. Marbois, was born in Metz, where the Marchall Comte de Broglie is Commandant. That going lately to Metz to be admitted a Counsellor in Parliament, he journeyed in Company with the Comte.
JULY 2D. FRYDAY.
Walking this afternoon, with Mr. Marbois, upon the Quarter Deck, I said frankly to him, that I had expected that Mr. Garnier would have been sent to America. That I had observed some things in the Conduct of B. and C. which made me conjecture and believe that they were planning to have Mr. G. [Garnier] succeed Mr. G. [Gerard]. That there was a great Intimacy between B. and Mr. G. [Garnier].
Between our selves, said Mr. Marbois, I believe that was a Reason, why he did not go.
Mr. G. [Garnier], said M. Marbois, is a Man of Spirit, and has a great deal of Merit, in England he did us good Service, and he speaks English very well, and understands Affairs very well, but in this Affair of his going out upon this Embassy, I cannot reconcile his Conduct, with a Man of Spirit.
I said, I had the Pleasure of some Acquaintance and a good deal of Conversation with Mr. G. [Garnier]. That he did me the Honour to visit me, several Times, and I had several long Conversations with him alone; that I was much pleased with his Knowledge of our Affairs from the Beginning, and with his Manners: But I thought him too much connected, and attached to a particular Circle, particularly to B. to whom he seemed to me to have a blind Attachment.
There is Reason to believe, said Mr. Marbois, that Dr. Franklin is not too much pleased with the Appointment of the Chevalier. What is the Reason of the Attachment of Dr. F. to B. said ? -- Because, B. is devoted to Mr. D. [Deane] and because he is the only American at Paris who loves him -- all the Americans but him are at present very bitter vs. F. . . . He would probably be very glad to get his G. [Grand] Son Secretary, but as I fancy he must think him too young to obtain the Appointment, he will join with Mr. D. in endeavouring to get B. -- D. I know from Authentic Information is endeavouring to get B. appointed. That B. was so irregular and excentric a Character, and his Conduct in American Affairs, had been such that I confessed I had an entire Distrust of him.
That at present he and Mr. C. had in a manner the Direction of American Affairs. That C. [Congress] might as well appoint Mr. C. their Ambassador. But that he had not the Brains for the Management of such Affairs.
Mr. Marbois said, in Fact, he had the Management but it was altogether improper. That the K. [King] would never suffer any of his Subjects to represent foreign Courts at his, &c.
The Chevalier came up, and said as our Court would take it amiss, if an American Minister should meddle in the Cabals or Intrigues at Versailles, So the United States should resent a french Ministers taking a Part in any Disputes among them. That there was no need of Policy between France and the United States. They need only understand one another. Rien que s'entendre.
I said that in my Youth I had often heard of the Address and Intrigues of the french Court, but I could sincerely say, I had found more Intrigue and finesse among my own Countrymen, at Paris, than among the french.
It is true said the Chev. [Chevalier] -- our Court at some Periods of our History have mis beaucoup de Ruses dans leur Politique. But, this had never any better Effect than to make Us distrusted by all Mankind.
1779 JULY 4TH. SUNDAY.
This Morning, having stepped out of my Cabbin, for a few Minutes, I found upon my Return, that the Compliments of the following Gentlemen, were left chez Moy, on the Anniversary of American Independence,
Le Chevalier de La Luzerne.
Mr. De Marbois.
Mr. Bide de Chavagnes, Capne. des Vaux. du Roy de France, commdnt. la Sensible
Le Chev. de Goisbriand, the Second in Command
Mr. De la Forest.
I returned Compliments to the Chevr. and the Gentlemen and Thanks for their kind Congratulations on my Countries Independence, and sincerely wished, as this was the foundation of the happy Alliance between France and America, that the latest Posterity of both Countries might have Reason to rejoice in it.
1779. JULY 16 FRYDAY.
Since I have been in this Ship I have read Robertsons History of America in 4 Volumes, in French, and four Volumes of the Observateur Anglois, in a series of Letters from my Lord All Eye to my Lord All Ear.
I am now reading Les Negotiations De Monsieur Le President Jeannin. He was Ambassador from Henry the fourth, at the Hague, at the Beginning of the Seventeenth Century, and is reputed one of the ablest and faithfullest Ambassadors that France ever had. Dossat, Jeannin and D'Estrades are the 3 first. . . . I am pleased with this Work, as well because of the Resem Similitude between the Circumstances of the united Provinces at this Time and those of the united States at present, as on account of the Wisdom, the Prudence, and Discretion and Integrity of the Minister.
The Observateur Anglois is extreamly entertaining but it is ruined, by an Intermixture of Debauchery and licentious Pleasure. It is vastly instructive to a Stranger, in many curious Particulars of the political state of France -- gives Light upon many Characters. But probably has much Obloquy.
1779 JULY 17TH. SATURDAY.
Three Days past We have sounded for the Grand banc but have not found it. By the Reckonings of all the officers, We ought to be now Ten Leagues upon the Banck.
It is surprizing to me, that We have not seen more Fish. A few Whales, a few Porpoises and two Sharks are all We have seen. The two Sharks, We caught, with a Shark Hook and a Bit of Pork for a Bait. We cutt up the first, and threw over board his Head and Entrails, all of which the other, which was playing after the Ship, snatched at with infinite Greediness and swallowed down in an instant. After We had taken him, We opened him, and found the Head and Entrails of his Companion in him.
Mr. Marbois is indefatigable. As soon as he is up, he reads the Correspondance of Mr. Gerard, for some Hours. The Minister it seems has furnished them with a Copy of all Mr. Gerards Letters, which appear to be voluminous. After this He reads aloud, to Mr. Carr, Mr. Otto, Mr. Restif or Mr. Forrest, one of Congreves or Garricks Plays. Then he writes some Hours.
He is unwilling to let me see Gerards Letters, or what he writes.
1779. JULY 20. TUESDAY.
I was struck with these Words in a Letter from the President Jeannin to M. Bellegarde Of 28 Jany. 1609
Si le Roy "est content de ma Conduite, et de la Diligence et Fidelit, dont fuse pour executer ponctuellement ce qu'il m'a command c'est deja une Espece de recompense qui donne grande Satisfaction un homme de bien; et quand il ne m'en aviendra rien de mieux, j'en accuserai plutot mon malheur que le defaut de sa bonne volont. Aussi suis-je si accoustum travailler beaucoup, et profiter peu, que j'en ay acquis une habitude qui me rend plus capable de souffrir patiemment la rudesse de cette mauvaise Fortune, sans m'en plaindre, ni murmurer."
It is said that H. [Henri] 4. altho he honoured Jeannin with his Confidence and Trusts, yet recompensed him very ill, notwithstanding the magnificent Rewards he gave to Sully, whose Modesty, and Delicacy did not hinder him from asking for them.
1779, FRYDAY JULY 30.
We are not yet arrived to the Banc of St. George. [illegible] Calms, contrary Winds and every [illegible] &c. detain Us. Saw a Whale spouting and blowing and leaping to day in our Wake -- a Grampus they say.
1779 JULY 31 SATURDAY.
Found Bottom this Morning on St. Georges Banc. The Weather, the Wind, the Discovery of our Longitude, give Us all, fine Spirits this Morning. The Wind is as good as We could wish it. We are now about to pass the Day and Night of greatest Danger. By the present Appearances, We are highly favoured. But Appearances are often deceitful.
At the Moment I am writing a thick fog comes up, on all Sides, as if directed specially to conceal ing us from our Ennemies.
I am not so presumptuous as to flatter myself that these happy Circumstances are all ordered for the Preservation of this Frigate, but not to remark them would be Stupidity, not to rejoice in them would be Ingratitude.
If We should be prospered so much as to arrive well, what News shall We find public or private? We may find Dissappointments on Shore. -- But our Minds should be prepared for all.
Pages 68 - 80
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[Pages 72 - 73 are uncut.]
Inside Back Cover
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