June 17. Tuesday.1
Went to Versailles, had a Conference with the C[omte] de V[ergennes].—Made my Court with the Corps Diplomatick, to the King, Queen, Monsieur, Madame, the C. D’Artois, Madame Elizabeth, Madames Victoire and Adelaide.2 Dined with the Ambassadors. Had much Conversation with the Ambassadors of Spain, Sardinia, Mr. Markoff, from Russia, the Dutch Ambassadors, &c.—It was to me, notwithstanding the Cold and Rain, the Equinoxial Storm at the Time of the Solstice, when all the Rooms had Fires like Winter, the most agreable Day I ever saw at Versailles. I had much Conversation too with the Duke of Manchester and Mr. Hartley, Dr. Franklin and his Son, Mr. Waltersdorf &c. Mr. Maddison and Mr. Shirley &c.
The C. de. V. observed, that Mr. Fox was startled at every Clamour of a few Merchants. I answered C’est exactement vrai—and it is so. The C. recommended to Us to discuss and compleat the definitive Treaty, and Leave Commerce to a future Negotiation.—Shall We gain by Delay? I ask myself. Will not French Politicks be employed, to stimulate the English to refuse Us, in future, Things that they would agree to now? The C. observed, that to insist on sending British Manufactures to America, and to refuse to admit American Manufactures in England was the Convention Leonine.3
The Duke of Manchester told me, that the Dutch had offered them Sumatra and Surinam, for Negapatnam. But We know says the Duke that both those Settlements are a charge, a Loss.
Brantzen told me he had not desplayed his Character of Ambassador, because, it would be concluded from it, that he was upon the Point of concluding the Peace.
The C. D’Aranda told me he would come and see me. He said Tout, en ce monde, a été Revolution.—I said true—universal History was but a Series of Revolutions.4 Nature delighted in Changes, and the World was but a String of them. But one Revolution was quite enough for the Life of a Man. I hoped, never to have to do with another.— Upon this he laughed very hartily, and said he believed me.
The Sardinian Ambassador said to me, it was curious to remark the Progress of Commerce. The Furs which the Hudsons Bay Company sent to London from the most northern Regions of America, were sent to Siberia, within 150 Leagues of the Place where they were hunted. He began to speak of La Fonte’s Voyage and of the Boston Story of Seymour or Seinior Gibbons, but other Company came in, and interrupted the Conversation.
1. JA does not mention in his Diary that on 14 June Hartley addressed a long letter, enclosing an equally long memorial (of 1 June), to the Commissioners, the burden of which was that the British navigation acts were not likely to be suddenly altered in favor of the United States, and that the working out of mutually agreeable trade regulations would take considerable time (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, Washington, 1889; 6 vols. description ends , 6:465–469, 483–487). From London Henry Laurens wrote his fellow Commissioners on 17 June that Secretary Fox had told him: “The navigation act is the vital of Great Britain, too delicate to bear a touch” (same description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, Washington, 1889; 6 vols. description ends , p. 493).
2. “Monsieur” was the Comte de Provence, afterward Louis XVIII; “Madame” was the Comtesse de Provence. The Comte d’Artois, another brother of the King, was afterward Charles X. Madame Elisabéth was the King’s sister, and Mesdames Victoire and Adélaïde his aunts. Madame Campan (née Genet), daughter of Edmé Jacques Genet, JA’s friend in the French foreign office, gives intimate views of all these royal personages in her Mémoires sur la vie privée de Marie-Antoinette ..., Paris, 1823; 3 vols. Further reflections on court life inspired by this visit to Versailles were recorded in a letter from JA to AA, 19 June. (Adams Papers; JA, Letters, ed. CFA description begins Letters of John Adams, Addressed to His Wife, ed. Charles Francis Adams, Boston, 1841; 2 vols. description ends , 2:96–99).
3. A term in Roman law: “a contract in which the advantage is, in the judgement of the Court, manifestly and unfairly one-sided” (OED description begins The Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford, 1933; 12 vols. and supplement. description ends ).
4. Dash supplied in this sentence.