Diary of John Adams, volume 4

[Monday February 16. 1778.] JA [Monday February 16. 1778.] Adams, John
Monday February 16. 1778.

On Monday February 16. 1778. We had for our mortification another Storm from the North East, and so thick a Snow that the Captain thought he could not go to Sea. Our Excursion to this place, was unfortunate, because it was almost impossible to keep the Men on board. Mothers, Wives, Sisters came and begged leave for their Sons, husbands and Brothers, to go on Shore for one hour &c. so that it was very hard for the Commander to resist their importunity. I was anxious because I thought We should not have another Wind so good as that We had lost. Congress and the Navy Board would be surprized at these delays, and yet there was no fault that I knew of. The Commander of the Ship was active and vigilant, and did all in his Power, but he wanted Men. He had very few Seamen: all was as yet chaos on board. His Men were not disciplined: even the Marines were not. The Men were not exercised to the Guns. They hardly knew the ropes. My Son was treated very complaisantly by Dr. Noel, and by a Captain and Lt. of Artillery who were with Us, all French Gentlemen. They were very assiduous in teaching him French. Noel was a genteel Man and had received somewhere a good Education. He had Scars on his forhead and on his hands which he said were wounds received last War, in the light horse Service. The Name of the Captain of Artillery, was 9Parison, and that of the Lieutenant was Begard. Since my Embarkation, Master Jesse Deane delivered me a letter from his Unkle Barnabas Deane, dated the tenth of February recommending to my particular care and Attention, the Bearer the only Child of his Brother Silas Deane Esqr. then in France, making no doubt, as the letter adds, that I shall take the same care of a Child in his Situation, which I would wish to have done to a Child of my own, in the like circumstances, it is needless to mention his Youth and Helplessness, also how much he will be exposed to bad company, and to contract bad habits, without some friendly Monitor to caution, and keep him from associating with the common hands on board. About the same time another Letter was delivered to me from William Vernon Esqr., of the Continental Navy Board at Boston dated February the ninth in these Words “I presume it is unnecessary to say one Word, in order to impress your mind with the Anxiety a Parent is under, in the Education of a Son, more especially when not under his immediate inspection, and at three thousand miles distance. Your parental Affection fixes this principle. Therefore I have only to beg the favour of you, Sir, to place my Son, in such a Situation, and with such a Gentleman, as you would choose for one of yours, whom you would wish to accomplish for a Merchant. If such a house could be found, either at Bourdeaux or Nantes, of Protestant Principles, of general and extensive Business, I rather think one of these Cities the best; yet if it should be your Opinion, that some other place might be more Advantageous to place him at, or that he can be employed by any of the States Agents, with a good prospect of improving himself in such manner, that he may hereafter be usefull to Society, and in particular to these American States, my views are fully answered. I have only one Observation more to make, vizt. in respect to the Oeconomy of this matter, which I am persuaded will engage your Attention, as the small fortune that remains with me, I would wish to appropriate for the Education of my Son, which I know must be husbanded, yet I cannot think of being rigidly parcimonious, nor must I be very lavish, lest my money should not hold out. I imagine a gratuity of one hundred pounds Sterling may be given to a Merchant of Eminence to take him for two or three Years, and perhaps his yearly board paid for. I shall be entirely satisfied in whatever may seem best for you to do and shall ever have a grateful remembrance of your unmerited favours, and sincerely hope in future to have it in my Power to make Compensation. I wish you health and the Utmost happiness and am with the greatest regards” &c.

Thus I found myself invested with the unexpected Trust of a kind 10of Guardianship of two promising young Gentlemen, besides my own Son, a benevolent Office which would have been peculiarly agreable to me, if I had not a prospect before me of too much Occupation in my own to be at leisure to discharge the duties of it, with that Attention which it might require.1 I was soon relieved from the principal care of it, however, for Mr. Vernon chose to remain at Bourdeaux, and Mr. Deane, by the Advice of Dr. Franklin, was put to Le Coeur's Pension at Passy with my Son J.Q.A. and his Grandson Benjamin Franklin Bache, since that time famous enough as the Editor and Proprietor of the Aurora.


MS: “acquire.”

[Tuesday the Seventeenth of February 1778] JA [Tuesday the Seventeenth of February 1778] Adams, John
Tuesday the Seventeenth of February 1778

On Tuesday the Seventeenth of February 1778 I set a Lesson to my Son in Chambauds French Grammar and asked the favour of Dr. Noel to shew him the precise critical pronunciation of all the french Words, Syllables and Letters, which the Dr. very politely undertook to do, and Mr. John proceeded to get his Lessons accordingly very much pleased.

The Weather was now fair and the Wind right, and We were again weighing Anchor in order to put to Sea, when Captain Diamond and Captain Inlaker came on board and breakfasted, two Prisoners, taken with Captain Manly in the Hancock Frigate, and lately escaped from Hallifax. Our Captain was an able Seaman, and I believed a brave, active and vigilant Officer, but he had no great Erudition. His Library consisted of Dyche's english Dictionary; Charlevoix's Paraguay, which since the British Conquest of Buenos Aires, I regret that I did not read at that time withmore attention; the Rights of the Christian Church asserted against the Romish and other Priests who claim an independent power over it; the second Volume of Chubbs posthumous Works, 1. Volume of the History of Charles Horton Esqr. and the first and second Volumes of the delicate Embarrassments a Novell. More Science than this is required in a Naval Officer....1 About Sunsett we sailed out of Marblehead harbour.


Suspension points in MS, as are all those found below in Part Two of the Autobiography (and not hereafter noted editorially). In this instance they indicate matter not copied by JA from the Diary, but this is by no means always the case.

[February 18. Wednesday.] JA [February 18. Wednesday.] Adams, John
February 18. Wednesday.

February 18. Wednesday. We had a fine Wind for twenty four hours; but the constant rolling and rocking of the Ship, made Us all Sick. Half the Sailors were so. My young Gentlemen Jesse and John were taken about twelve O Clock the last night and had been very Sick all day. I was seized with it in the afternoon. My Servant Joseph Stevens and the Captain's Will, were both very bad.

[February 19. Thursday. 1778] JA [February 19. Thursday. 1778] Adams, John
February 19. Thursday. 1778

February 19. Thursday. 1778. Arose at four O Clock. The Wind and 11Weather still fair. The Ship rolled less than the day before, and I neither felt nor heard any thing of Sea Sickness last night nor this morning. Monsieur Parison, one of General Du Coudrai's Captains of Artillery, dined with Us Yesterday, and behaved like a civil and sensible Man. We learned from him, that the roads from Nantes to Paris are very good; no mountains, no rocks, no Hills, all as smooth as the Ships deck, and a very fine Country: But that the roads from Bourdeaux to Paris are bad and mountainous.

The Mal de mer, seems to be the Effect of Agitation. The vapours and exhalations from the Sea; the Smoke of Seacoal, the Smell of stagnant, putrid Water, the Odour of the Ship where the Sailors sleep, or any other offensive Odour will increase the Qualminess, but of themselves, without the violent Agitation they will not produce it.