1779 Saturday .
Last night, the Chevalier de La Luzerne arrived, [and]1 took Lodgings at the Epee Royal, in a Chamber opposite to mine up two Pair of Stairs. He did me the Honour, together with Monsieur Marbois, his Secretary,2 or rather the Secretary of the Commission, [to visit me]3 in my Chamber this Morning, and invited me to dine, with him in his Chamber with my Son. The Ambassador, the Secretary, Mr. Chaumont, my Son and myself, made the Company. The Chevalier informs me that he dined with me once, at Count Sarsefields.4
I went in the Morning to the Lodging of Monsr. Marbois. He was out, but I found his two Clerks, one of them speaks English very well. They observed to me, that I had been waiting a long time. I said Yes, long enough to have made a sentimental Journey through the Kingdom.—This pleased the English Secretary very much. He said Yoricks Sentimental Journey was a very fine Thing, a charming Piece. I said Yes and that Sterne was the sweetest, kindest, tenderest Creature in the World, and that there was a rich Stream of Benevolence flowing like Milk and Honey, thro all his Works.
M. Marbois shewed me, a Paper from Philadelphia of the 16 Feb. in which is a long Piece, with the Name of Mr. Paine. In it is the Letter, which I remember very well from M.D. proposing P. Ferdinand or M—— B——to command in Chief.5 The Name was mentioned of a Marshall, whom I have often heard [Deane]6 say was one of the greatest Generals in Europe. This is curious—bien extraordinaire, one of the Gentlemen said.
After Dinner, I took a Walk in the Wood.
Beggars, Servants, Garçons, Filles, Decroteurs, Blanchisseuses. Barges, Batteaux, Bargemen. Coffee houses, Taverns. Servants at the Gates of Woods and Walks. Fruit, Cakes. Ice Creams. Spectacles. Tailors for setting a Stitch in Cloaths. Waiters for running with Errands, Cards &c. Cabbin Boys. Coach Hire. Walking Canes. Pamphlets. Ordonances. Carts.
1. MS: “at.”
2. François Barbé-Marbois, later Marquis de Barbé-Marbois (1745–1837), a French diplomat who was to be repeatedly and significantly concerned with American affairs during his long career; see E. Wilson Lyon, The Man Who Sold Louisiana ..., Norman, Okla., 1942. Marbois wrote his own account of his voyage to America in 1779, but it was addressed to a young lady and is on the whole more playful than informative. An English translation will be found in Eugene P. Chase, ed., Our Revolutionary Forefathers: The Letters of François, Marquis de Barbé-Marbois during his Residence in the United States as Secretary of the French Legation, 1779–1785, N.Y., 1929, p. 37–64. See also 20 Nov. 1782, below.
3. Supplied by the editors for words omitted by the diarist.
4. Guy Claude, Comte de Sarsfield (1718–1789), a French military officer of Irish antecedents (Dict. de la noblesse description begins François Alexandre Aubert de La Chesnaye-Desbois and —— Badier, Dictionnaire de la noblesse, Paris, 3d edn., 1863–1876; 19 vols. description ends , 18:292; Edward MacLysaght, Irish Families, Dublin, 1957, p. 261–262; Ann. Register for 1789, p. 210). His seat was at Rennes, Brittany, but having gregarious habits he lived much in Paris and later sought out JA’s company at The Hague and in London. He had a special fondness for Americans, entertained and corresponded with all those of any prominence who came to Europe, and apparently visited America after the Revolution. In the Adams Papers, besides a long series of letters from Sarsfield, 1778–1789, there is a book-length set of MS essays by him in French on the government and economy of the United Provinces, on Women, Slavery, and other topics, indicating that he had aspirations as a philosophe. (These are tentatively dated 1782–1783.) Long extracts from Sarsfield’s journal in the Low Countries were copied by JA into his own Diary under date of 10 Oct. 1782, q.v. From London, 6 Sept. 1785, JA wrote Arthur Lee that Sarsfield was there and leading “the Life of a Peripatetic Philosopher.... He ... is the Happyest Man I know.... If a Man was born for himself alone, I would take him for a Model” (Adams Papers; R. H. Lee, Arthur Lee description begins Richard Henry Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, Boston, 1829; 2 vols. description ends , 2:255). And to Sarsfield himself, 21 Jan. 1786, JA wrote:
“Among all my acquaintance I know not a greater Rider of Hobby Horses than Count Sarsfield—one of your Hobby Horses is to assemble uncommon Characters. I have dined with you 2 or 3. times at your House in Company with the oddest Collections of Personages that were ever put together. I am thinking if you were here, I would Invite you to a dinner to your taste. I would ask King Paoli, King Brant, Le Chevalier D’Eon, and if you pleased you might have Mr. and Mrs.—— with whom you dined in America. How much speculation would this whimsical association afford you?” (LbC, Adams Papers).
5. This article signed by Thomas Paine appeared in the Pennsylvania Packet, 16 Feb. 1779, and incorporates an extract from Silas Deane’s letter to the Secret Committee of Foreign Affairs, Paris, 6 Dec. 1776, proposing Prince Ferdinand or Marshal Broglie as suitable persons “to take the lead of your armies” (Deane Papers description begins Papers of Silas Deane, 1774–1790, in New-York Historical Society, Collections, Publication Fund Series, vols. 19–23, New York, 1887–1891; 5 vols. description ends , 1:404–405; 3:361–375)
6. Blank in MS.