John Adams to Abigail Adams
May 15. 1780
My dear Portia
I inclose for your Amusement, a Publication, made here within a few days.1
Somebody has inserted in the Amsterdam Gazette, that this Gentleman lodges with me. This is done with a political design, but whether it was intended to do honour to me, or him or both, I dont know.—It is not true.—However there is a good Understanding between him and me, and therefore I did not trouble myself to enquire whether it was done to serve or hurt him or me, or both.2
I went Yesterday, Pentecost, to Versailles, and saw the Nights of the order of St. Esprit. There was magnificence enough.3 The Queen shone, like a Star—and the K[ing] had a new Throne. This striking Character discover[ed] by his Countenance, that he had not a very profound Admiration of the Pomposities about him. He manifestly smiled Contempt, upon some of the Ceremonies. But He made a most profound, and reverential Bow to the Altar, when he came up and when he went away. This was done with an Air of real serioussness and Gravity.
RC (Adams Papers). Enclosure not found; see note 1.
1. Evidently a French publication about the American naval hero John Paul Jones; see the following note.
2. “his Gentleman” was John Paul Jones, as appears from an item of Paris news in the Gazette d’Amsterdam, 5 May 1780: “Le Commodore Paul Jones, qui est actuellement ici logé avec Mr. Adams, a reçu Mardi dernier á 1’Opéra de grands Applaudissemens du public, qui a paru voir avec un vif Sentiment de plaisir et d’Admiration, cet intrépide Marin” (cited from a collection of extracts from European newspapers concerning American affairs, 5 April–4 July 1780, copied by JA and John Thaxter, in Adams Papers). Between cruises, Jones was spending six weeks of April and May enjoying his celebrity and the other diversions offered him by the chief capital of Europe; see Samuel Eliot Morison, John Paul Jones, Boston and Toronto, 1959, p. 275 ff.
3. This was not the first time that JA had witnessed the ceremonial investiture of the Knights of the Holy Ghost. See his brief diary entry of 7 June 1778 and the colorful elaboration thereof in his Autobiography (Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 2:316; 4:130–132).