Diary of John Quincy Adams, volume 1

16th. JQA 16th. Adams, John Quincy

I went to bed immediately on my arrival; rose at about 10 in the morning, sent a man to find out Mr. Barclay. He return'd and told me he was vis-à-vis la maison de Ville. I went and found him very unwell: he had meant to leave L'Orient four or five days ago; but has been very ill with an humour in his head; but he is now much better, and thinks to set off next Thursday. I found Mr. Champion1 there, who went with me to Mr. Rucker's lodgings. I found him, and Mr. Grub2 a Gentleman from Carolina. They accompanied me to the man who sold my Cabriolet, to Mr. Randall; he was much more reasonable, than I expected he would be, for notwithstanding all the damage, which the heat of the Sun, and the badness of the roads have done to the Carriage, he gave me 25 louis d'ors for it: and took it just as it was. His name is Soret. I think I can recommend him to any person who might want to hire or to buy a carriage at L'Orient. Dined with Mr. Barclay. After dinner, I went with Mr. Champion, to Mr. Mazois the director of the Packets, and paid him 500 livres for a passage, on board the Courier de l'Amerique, Captain Fournier. I was much astonished to hear that the Packet will sail tomorrow if the wind remains as it is. It is very extraordinary that Mr. le Couteulx himself, the director of the Packets at Paris, should not know when the Packets sail: he tells every passenger who goes to him, that they are obliged to wait for the Post that arrives from Paris Wednesday morning.3 A Gentleman who will pass with us, depending upon this, arrived 6 hours too late for the last Packet, and has been obliged to wait an whole month at L'Orient. I saw the Captain who gave me a respite; he will not go till to morrow evening, but I depend only upon a change of wind, for all the Letters which I expect by the next Post. It is very disagreeable to be thus disappointed by the unpardonable negligence, of those very persons, on whom, we depend the most.


I bought My bedding, viz: a matrass, a pair of sheets: so large that one will be sufficient at a time, a pillar, and two pillar Cases. I brought with me from Paris a Coverlid, and half a dozen napkins, all these articles a person must necessarily have: on board the Packet you are furnished with every thing else, as I am told.

Spent the evening and Supp'd at Mr. Barclay's; with Mrs. Moylan, Miss Fermier her Sister, and Mr. Nesbitt.4 Return'd to my Hotel at about 12. at night.†.5


Probably Henry Champion, a merchant at Lorient (Jefferson, Papers , 8:448; 10:87; 11:112, 173, 582–583).


James Grubb, a Virginia merchant at Lorient. Thirty years later JQA employed Grubb as his private secretary in London. “He was then in the 1780s flourishing in Youth and Prosperity,” JQA wrote to his mother, “but has since been unfortunate, and now with a wife and six children, even the employment that I give him is a relief to him” ( Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S. , 2:450; 3:97; JQA to AA, 24 Aug. 1815, Adams Papers).


18 May, two days hence.


Jonathan Nesbitt, a merchant banker at Lorient since 1775, and brother of John Maxwell Nesbitt, the Philadelphia Revolutionary leader and merchant (The Papers of Robert Morris, 1781–1784, ed. E. James Ferguson and John Catanzariti, Pittsburgh, 1973– , 3:298, 520; Blanche Taggart Hartman, A Genealogy of the Nesbit, Ross, Porter, Taggart Families of Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, 1929, p. 7, 8).


JQA's cross mark probably refers, as others have, to letters he wrote which were gleaned from his Diary entries. In this case it is undoubtedly his letter to AA2, 11 12 –17 May 1785 , Adams Papers, in which he describes his journey from Dreux to Lorient.

17th. JQA 17th. Adams, John Quincy

Immediately after breakfast I went to Mr. Barclay's. The wind has changed, so that we shall not sail this day. This gives me pleasure, as I expect a number of Letters, by the Post that arrives to morrow morning: I went with Captain Fournier to the Hôtel of Mr. Thevenard the Commandant, but he was not at home. Saw him upon the place of Parade. Dined with Mr. Grub and Mr. Champion at Mr. Barclay's. After dinner my Captain came, and took me in his barge, on board the Packet. Mr. Jarvis and Mr. Williamos were kind enough to write a fortnight ago to the Captain, informing him of my design to go with him: so that the round house has been kept for me. It is by far the best apartment in the Packet, except those of the Captain and officers. The Rooms below the deck are very inconvenient, so small that two persons cannot easily fit together in one of them. They have no windows in them, which makes them so dark that it is impossible to read without a candle and must render the air extremely unwholsome. But the roundhouse has a large window and two 272small ones that open and being upon the deck it is not subject to the bad air that reigns continually below. Remained on board a couple of hours. Returned and spent the evening with Mr. Barclay. Mm: Cardan, and her two Daughters supped there. Return'd home, at 11. o'clock.