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Thomas Boylston Adams to John Quincy Adams, 26 April 1797

Thomas Boylston Adams to John Quincy Adams

Paris 26. April 1797.

My dear Brother.

I wrote you from Brussels on the 19th: instt: and acquainted you with the progress of my journey to that place. I left it on the 20th: with the Diligence, and reached Valenciennes in safety at an early hour of the evening. There I was deserted by my fellow travellers whom I met on the banks of the Mease, but in the course of the day I had become tolerably acquainted with my new companions who entered at Brussels, and the subsequent part of the Journey was rendered very pleasant by the new accession. A very interesting young lady, accompanied by her father, and bound upon a matrimonial voyage formed the principal agrément of the journey. I learnt her history in ascending a very long hill upon our second days route from Valenciennes, having ravished by violence her arm and attached it to my own— She also learnt mine, and upon comparing stories we found that we were fellow-townspeople as well as fellow travellers. She is the Daughter of Mr: De Thune the Bookseller at the Hague—has received a principal part of her education in France, and is certainly one of the most charming little girls, I have ever seen. Her father is a parisian by birth and very much of a gentleman in his manners and conversation— Our other companions were of the ordinary cast, but for the most part very accommodating. On the journey we met with but one accident, which retarded us on the high road nearly four hours of the night. We had dined at Cambray and were to ride all night, but at 9 in the evening our Director discovered that one of the wheels of the carriage was on the point of breaking, just in the middle of a long hill. The remark was very opportune for the wheel must have fallen with two or three more turns. Before we could get it repaired it was nearly one in the morning as we were two leagues distant from the place where it could be done— The interval I employed in sleep beside the fire of an humble cottage, which I was told by the owner was only à quatre pas d’ici, but which proved to be half a mile. We proceeded without further delay and reached this place at half past ten on Saturday evening— I took my little case under my arm, and by the help of a verbal direction undertook and effected the discovery of the Hotel des Etrangers Rue Vivienne No 6. whence I now write you.

I shall say nothing to you of my enchantment on the road at the sight of such a favored spot of the globe as France appears to be— I had never formed a notion of it, though I expected to meet the finest Country under Heaven.

Since I have been here, I have scarcely done or seen any thing— I have this day sent to the Directorie the necessary petition to obtain leave of residence for a short time— Mr: Skipwith has also undertaken to procure me one to return to the Hague.1

I find every thing here enormously dear, in so much that I am persuaded I shall have occasion for an extension of my credit upon the Bankers to whom Messrs: Moliere addressed me.2 This is very different from what I expected; but I see no help for it unless I should defeat the object of my visit by a spirit of oeconomy. It is frightful for me to think of such an enormous expence in so short a time, but every thing here is taken by the month and must be paid for at that rate. I must have a carriage, for I foresee that nothing can be done without one, where the object is to see Paris and its environs, and the common Hacks would shortly consume the price of a carriage at my own command.

On Sunday evening I saw at the grand opera Mr: D’Araujo, who enquired with much politeness after you; he has not been absent from Paris.3

You know what the Opera is— Do you think I was disappointed in it? Yesterday I made one of a party to Sceaux, one of the former Royal Chateaux, and of all perfection of nature and art, I am yet to see its equal.4

Mr: Pitcairn is well; Paris swarms with our fellow citizens, who are here upon various affairs; for my own part I know not how they can live here at this time when it costs a small fortune to live for a month only.

I have seen nor heard nothing about books since my arrival; indeed until this very hour, I have found leisure for neither reading or writing; as to thought, It has necessarily been active, but you will wonder how when you read this letter.

The preliminaries of peace with the Emperor are said to be possitively signed concluded; but the Armies of the Rhine are advancing rapidly with success. Peace will stop them e’re long.5

Remember me to our friends and believe me / your brother

Thomas B Adams.

PS. Your friend Mr: Burling is my next door neighbor here. I find pleasure in his Society. Waldo, Rogers. D. Parker. Cutting, Russel, &ca: are among the number of your acquaintance here.6

Mr: Short has just left me, and desires to be remembered to you.

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “J Q Adams.”; endorsed: “T. B. Adams. Paris. / 26. April 1797. / 2. May do: recd: / do: Ansd:.”

1Fulwar Skipwith (1765–1839) was a Virginia merchant who had been appointed secretary for James Monroe’s mission to France. He subsequently served as consul general to France (Washington, Papers, Presidential Series description begins The Papers of George Washington: Presidential Series, ed. W. W. Abbot, Dorothy Twohig, Jack D. Warren, Mark A. Mastromarino, Robert F. Haggard, Christine S. Patrick, John C. Pinheiro, David R. Hoth, and others, Charlottesville, Va., 1987–. description ends , 11:438; Henry Bartholomew Cox, The Parisian American: Fulwar Skipwith of Virginia, Washington, D.C., 1964, p. 46–47, 58).

2Moliere & Fils had assisted JQA with several private financial matters since his arrival at The Hague. On 5 May he paid the firm a visit, presumably regarding the extension of TBA’s credit (Moliere & Fils to JQA, 16 March 1795, 12 July 1796, both Adams Papers; D/JQA/24, 2 March 1795, 23 July 1796, 5 May 1797, APM Reel 27).

3For Antonio de Araujo de Azevedo’s mission to France, see JQA to LCA, 6 May, and note 4, below.

4For a fuller description of TBA’s visit to the château at Sceaux, see his letter to AA, 24 July, and note 1, below.

5A preliminary peace agreement between France and Austria was signed at Leoben, Austria, on 18 April, under the terms of which the Austrian Netherlands were ceded in return for an indemnity to be paid by France after the definitive treaty was signed. Secret articles addressed the division of Italian territory, with Austria ceding lands west of the Oglio River but gaining the Venetian lands to the river’s east, as well as its territory in Dalmatia and Istria (now Croatia), and France retiring from the Austrian territory occupied by the Army of Italy. The official report of the peace did not reach the Directory until 29 April, but news of the agreement preceded it to Paris (Cambridge Modern Hist. description begins The Cambridge Modern History, Cambridge, Eng., 1902–1911; repr. New York, 1969; 13 vols. description ends , 8:582–583; Biro, German Policy of Revolutionary France description begins Sydney Seymour Biro, The German Policy of Revolutionary France: A Study in French Diplomacy during the War of the First Coalition 1792–1797, 1 vol. in 2, Cambridge, 1957. description ends , 2:754–756, 758).

6Walter Burling, a Massachusetts merchant living in Paris, had been among JQA’s social circle in Boston prior to his departure for the Netherlands. Daniel Parker, for whom see vol. 7:221, was engaged in financial speculation in Paris at this time. Boston merchant Joseph Russell lived in Paris from 1796 until 1798 (Monroe, Papers description begins The Papers of James Monroe, ed. Daniel Preston, Marlena C. DeLong, and others, Westport, Conn., 2003–. description ends , 3:509, 4:75, 268; D/JQA/19, 22 Oct. 1793, APM Reel 22; D/JQA/22, 28 Aug. 1794, APM Reel 25).

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