To Benjamin Franklin
Hotel de Valois July. 7 17811
Mr. Adams presents his Compliments to Dr. Franklin and prays him to let his servant take the Trunks left at Passy to Paris. Mr. A. will do himself the Honour to pay his Respects to his Excellency, very soon.
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers).
1. JA left Amsterdam at ten o’clock on the morning of 2 July and reached his usual lodgings at the Hôtel de Valois on the evening of the 6th (JQA, Diary description begins Diary of John Quincy Adams, ed. David Grayson Allen, Robert J. Taylor, and others, Cambridge, 1981– . description ends , 1:87; JA, Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 2:456–457). In 1809, when he published the documents concerning his meetings with Vergennes in the Boston Patriot, JA described it as a difficult journey “which, in the hands of Sterne, would make a sentimental romance.” Much of this was owing to JA’s servant, Joseph Stephens, who delivered this letter to Franklin. Stephens,
“a very stout man, who had served as a soldier in Canada, and afterwards on board an American vessel of war, and had never been sick, was now conquered by the pestilential steams of the climate, and almost shaken to pieces by an intermittent fever. I had provided him with a physician and attendants, and was about taking another person to go with me; but Stephens begged so pathetically, that I would not leave him, that I could not resist his importunity, but took him in the coach with me. When his fits came on I was obliged to stop at an inn for the day, and procure him a physician and a nurse. These delays protracted the journey to twice the number of days; but the exercise and the exchange of air from the tainted atmosphere of Amsterdam to the pure breezes of France, cured him of his distemper, and he returned with me apparently well; though in a few days his fits returned with violence, continued nine months upon him, and reduced him almost to a shadow. It is indeed the destiny of every stranger who goes into Holland, to encounter either an intermittent or bilious fever within the two first years”