To Samuel Cooper
Paris Hotel de Valois Rue de Richelieu Feb. 23. 1780
I knew not when I undertook so readily to take the Care of your Grandson what I was about, little foreseeing a Journey of near four hundred Leagues by Land, in the Extremity of Winter, over the worst Roads and the vilest Accommodations and at the same time the most expensive of all Europe.1
I think myself very happy however to have at length reached Paris, without any essential Injury to the Health of any one of the Company, although all were at several times in the Utmost danger of fatal Colds and Fevers.
I have had the Honour to pay and Receive Visits, and to dine with the Comte D’Estaing, Since my Arrival. He is much your Friend, and takes a great Pleasure in shewing certain Pictures. His Wounds are much better, and We are wishing to see him again in Command.2 He is very popular in France, as many Symptoms have shewn, in many Places, particularly in the Feast which was made at Bourdeaux, in honour of him, and lately at the opera, when an Actor attracted an Applause of a Quarter of an Hour, resounding like Thunder by going up to the Comtes Lodge and offering him a Crown of Lawrel in a Place where the Piece had offered such a Crown to an Hero.
We cannot to this day ascertain, with Precision, whether Rodney is in Gibrater or gone to the West Indies—nor whether done Gasten has joined Don Cordova—from whence I conclude that Rodney is gone to the West Indies, and upon the whole I believe Cordova and Gasten are joined.3
The Blow to D’Estaing at Savanna, that to Langaras Squadron, the succours thrown into Gibraltar, the Capture of the Caracca fleet, added to the Affair of Omoa,4 will banish all Thoughts of Peace from many Minds, which would otherwise have entertained hopes of it in England. The Ministers would not have thought of it, if all these Events had gone against them, at least that is my Opinion. In great Haste your Friend and sert
LbC (Adams Papers).
1. On this date JA also wrote to Cooper’s son-in-law, Gabriel Johonnot (LbC, Adams Papers), regarding the expenses incurred by his son, Samuel Cooper Johonnot, during the journey from El Ferrol to Paris. He noted that Johonnot had given him a bill of exchange for 1,398 livres to cover his son’s expenses in Europe, but that 985 livres, 7 sous had been spent in the course of the trek through Spain and France, leaving a balance of 412 livres, 13 sous. Believing that this sum would soon be expended, JA requested that Johonnot send additional funds for his son’s use.
2. Francis Dana’s journal for 1779–1780 (MHi: Dana Family Papers) indicates that JA visited Estaing on 11 Feb. and dined with him on the 13th. Since the journal ends with an entry for 14 Feb., it is not known when Estaing called on JA or whether there were later visits by JA. Estaing had been wounded during the unsuccessful effort to storm the British defenses at Savannah in Oct. 1779 (Mackesy, War for America description begins Piers Mackesy, The War for America, 1775–1783, Cambridge, 1965. description ends , p. 278).
3. Most of Don Miguel Gaston’s fleet had reached De Cordoba by 4 Feb. (Dull, French Navy and Amer. Independence description begins Jonathan R. Dull, The French Navy and American Independence: a Study of Arms and Diplomacy, 1774–1787, Princeton, 1915. description ends , p. 178).
4. Rodney’s victories over the Spanish and subsequent relief of Gibraltar were important, but of even more significance in stiffening the resolve of the ministry were the earlier reports concerning the capture of Omoa, a port on the northwest coast of Honduras, and the successful defense of Savannah. News of those events, both occurring in October, reached London on the 17th and 20th of December respectively and represented the first reports of British military success in some time (Mackesy, War for America description begins Piers Mackesy, The War for America, 1775–1783, Cambridge, 1965. description ends , p. 316–317; see also the London Chronicle of 16–18 and 18–21 Dec. 1779).