Papers of John Adams, volume 18

To Elbridge Gerry

To Matthew Robinson-Morris

217 To John Adams from Thomas Jefferson, William Stephens Smith, and Richard Peters Jefferson, Thomas Smith, William Stephens Peters, Richard Adams, John
From Thomas Jefferson, William Stephens Smith, and Richard Peters
1/2 past 2— Dolly’s— [ ca. 21 March 1786 ]1 One among our many follies Was calling in for Steaks at Dolly’s Whereby we’ve lost—& feel like Sinners That we have miss’d much better dinners Nor do we think that us ’tis hard on Most humbly thus to beg your pardon And promise that another time We’ll give our reason not our rhime So we’ve agreed—Our Nem: Con: Vote is That we thus early jointly—give you notice For as our rule is to be clever We hold it better late than never Th: Jefferson. Wm: Stephens Smith Richard Peters

MS not found. Printed from facsimile in WSS’s hand in Magazine of American History, with Notes and Queries, [1879], 3:44–45; addressed: “His Excellency John Adams, &c., &c., &c., corner Brooks Street, Grosvenor Square.” The signatures were written in a circle and attached on a separate foldout page. The address was provided only in the Magazine article’s text.


Published as “A Diplomatic Round Robin” in 1879, this doggerel verse captures the three Americans carousing at Dolly’s, a Paternoster Row chophouse famed for large beefsteaks and gill (ivy-flavored) ale, which evidently caused them to miss a dinner engagement with JA. Although the Magazine approximated the date of their early-morning apology to JA to be [26 March 1786], the editors have chosen here to follow Jefferson’s 21 March 1786 record, “Pd. dinner at Dolly’s 6/.” (Bryant Lillywhite, London Coffee Houses, London, 1963, p. 692; Jefferson’s Memorandum Books , 1:615).