Papers of John Adams, volume 18

To John Jay

From Thomas Jefferson

My dear friend Paris, 29 May 1786

It seems one needs to write to you clearly and without riddles. I had been told that Miss Adams was getting married, but that the affair was not settled enough so that I could congratulate you on it.1 In such a situation, among civilized peoples one makes sure to refrain from speaking openly; one says instead something convoluted, that is always understood, and one is considered to have gracefully extended one’s compliments. Since such is not the case in America, I will tell you then roughly that I very much hope that the news is true and that Miss Adams is happy, because I am exceedingly concerned for her. I pray you tell her as much, assuring her at the same time of my respect, and Mrs. Adams in whose satisfaction I also have an interest. As for you, my dear sir, you must accustom yourself to riddles; I shall let you guess what I think in regard to you.

It seems as though you are only now emerging from your forests of the New World, so you fail to realize that in our charming city of Paris a reasonable man whiles away his hours from morning till evening doing nothing, to such a point that he cannot find the time to write a few miserable letters. He pays visits, he dines, he sups or watches suppers and runs around all day.

No joke. It is an insufferable dissipation and idleness of mind from which one cannot escape because without it one cannot even accomplish the most trivial task. I am leaving for Brittany next month where I shall breathe a little. I did not forget what I promised you; but all I was able to do was to gather some materials. I do not really know what I will be able to do because I fear a lawsuit here in Brittany, where my hobby horse was never able to find me like yours is able to find you at Penn’s Hill. I should be rather upset to think that I cannot expect the pleasure of seeing you before you return there, and I shall never go to this Penn’s Hill. My time has passed rather more than yours. If I were younger I would take great pleasure in undertaking the voyage and would publish my itinerary for the public, like the Chevalier de Chastellux.2

It is said that your commercial treaty with England is nearly concluded. It is also said that ours is making headway. All of this promises a universal peace and concord while on the other hand the Barbary war threatens a general conflagration.


Adieu, my dear friend. The work you heard me compare to the letters of Stuart to Mansfield are the letters of Junius, the author of which is unknown, and which your librarian will easily help you find.3 yours forever.

My regards to the Baron Lynden when you see him.4 He had promised me some corrections that he still has not sent me. My address is still in Paris.

31 May 1786

The cardinal is plainly and simply acquitted on all counts.5

Mrs. La Motte whipped with the rope around her neck, branded on both shoulders, imprisoned for life.

Villette banished in perpetuity.

Cagliostro acquitted of all charges.

Miss Oliva expelled from the court.

Miss La Motte’s report, considered injurious and slanderous, suppressed.

The forgery (the players’ contract) suppressed as fraudulent, apposed, and falsely attributed to the queen.

Here is enough material to bring you honor in the diplomatic corps.