1780 July 27. Thursday.
Setting off on a Journey, with my two Sons to Amsterdam.1 —Lodged at Compiegne. Fryday night, lodged at Valenciennes. Saturday arrived at Brussells.—This Road is through the finest Country, I have any where seen. The Wheat, Rye, Barley, Oats, Peas, Beans and several other Grains, the Hemp, Flax, Grass, Clover, Lucerne, St. Foin, &c., the Pavements and Roads are good. The Rows of Trees, on each side the Road, and around many Squares of Land.—The Vines, the Cattle, the Sheep, in short every Thing upon this Road is beautiful and plentifull. Such immense fields and heavy Crops of Wheat I never saw any where. The Soil is stronger and richer, than in other Parts.
I lodged in Brussells at L’hotel de L’Imperatrice. The Cathedral Church, the Park, the Ramparts and Canals of this Town, are very well worth seeing.2
1. Having met with absolute resistance at Versailles to discharging any part of his mission to negotiate treaties of peace and commerce with Great Britain, and having offended Vergennes by his importunity on this and unwelcome advice on other matters, JA determined to go to Amsterdam, “to try,” as Franklin reported to Congress, “whether something might not be done to render us less dependent on France” (Franklin to Huntington, 9 Aug. 1780, Writings, ed. Smyth description begins The Writings of Benjamin Franklin, ed. Albert Henry Smyth, New York and London, 1905–1907; 10 vols. description ends , 8:128). JA went to the Netherlands as a private citizen, not knowing that on 20 June Congress had commissioned him its agent, until Henry Laurens should arrive, to procure a loan there (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 17:535–537); his commission, received on 16 Sept., was enclosed in a letter from Lovell and Houston, the Committee on Foreign Affairs (Adams Papers).
2. Only the first two sentences of the present entry could have been written on 27 July. According to JQA’s Diary, which is much more detailed than his father’s during this journey, the party arrived in Brussels at 5:30 in the afternoon of the 29th, and JA had a long conversation with Edmund Jenings that evening.