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To John Adams from Thomas Jefferson, William Stephens Smith, and Richard Peters

From Thomas Jefferson, William Stephens Smith,
and Richard Peters

1/2 past 2— Dolly’s— [ca. 21 March 1786]1

One among our many follies

Was calling in for Steaks at Dolly’s

Whereby we’ve lost—& feel like Sinners

That we have miss’d much better dinners

Nor do we think that us ’tis hard on

Most humbly thus to beg your pardon

And promise that another time

We’ll give our reason not our rhime

So we’ve agreed—Our Nem: Con: Vote is

That we thus early jointly—give you notice

For as our rule is to be clever

We hold it better late than never

Th: Jefferson.
Wm: Stephens Smith
Richard Peters

MS not found. Printed from facsimile in WSS’s hand in Magazine of American History, with Notes and Queries, [1879], 3:44–45; addressed: “His Excellency John Adams, &c., &c., &c., corner Brooks Street, Grosvenor Square.” The signatures were written in a circle and attached on a separate foldout page. The address was provided only in the Magazine article’s text.

1Published as “A Diplomatic Round Robin” in 1879, this doggerel verse captures the three Americans carousing at Dolly’s, a Paternoster Row chophouse famed for large beefsteaks and gill (ivy-flavored) ale, which evidently caused them to miss a dinner engagement with JA. Although the Magazine approximated the date of their early-morning apology to JA to be [26 March 1786], the editors have chosen here to follow Jefferson’s 21 March 1786 record, “Pd. dinner at Dolly’s 6/.” (Bryant Lillywhite, London Coffee Houses, London, 1963, p. 692; Jefferson’s Memorandum Books description begins Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, ed. James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton (The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series), Princeton, N.J., 1997; 2 vols. description ends , 1:615).

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