John Adams to Abigail Adams
Passy Decr. 271 1778
My dearest Friend
Mr. Greenleaf is about to set off, towards Nantes and from thence to Boston.
Last Night, I walked to Paris and saw the Illumination for the Birth of the Princess Maria Theresa Charlotta,2 Fille du Roi—Splendid indeed. My little Friend who was with me will write you a Description of it. The Military school, the Hospital of Invalids and the Palace of Bourbon, were beautiful and sublime indeed, as much so as an Illumination can be. I could scarcely have conceived that an Illumination could have such an Effect. I suppose the Expence of this is a Million of Livres. As much as I respect this Country, particularly the King and Royal Family I could not help reflecting how many Families, in another Country would this Tallow make happy for Life, how many Privateers would this Tallow fit out, for chasing away the Jerseymen and making Reprisals on Messrs. Les Anglois.—But Taste will have its Way in this Country.
The Queen and her illustrious Infant are very well, and this Nation is very happy to have discovered a Way, by which a Dauphin may come to them next Year, or the Year after.
The K[ing] and Q[ueen] are greatly beloved here—every day shews fresh Proofs of it.
On the other side the Channel there is a King, who is in a fair Way to be the object of opposite sentiments, to a Nation, if he is not at present.
If Keppell should be destroyed in Life or Reputation, I shall expect to hear that all Restraints are taken off, and Passions allowed to sport themselves without Reserve. Keppell told the King he would not fight against America—an unpardonable offence. He will be ruined if possible.3 However I think that Keppell was wrong even to accept a Command against the French. If B[ritain] is wrong in this War against America, she is wrong in that vs. the French, for France and America have the same Object in View and no other. France is right if America is right, because France only assisted the American Cause for which John Bull abused and fought her. But John will come off wretchedly. He will be beat. He has been beat. There have been more British Men of War already taken and destroyed, than they lost in two former War[s], and more sailors Prisoners.
RC (Adams Papers).
1. Corrected from “26” by overwriting.
2. Marie Thérèse Charlotte (1778–1851), “Madame Royale,” eldest child of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette; in 1799 she married her Bourbon cousin the Duc d’Angoulême (Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale description begins J. C. F. Hoefer, ed., Nouvelle biographie générale depuis les temps les plus reculés jusqu’à nos jours, Paris, 1852–1866; 46 vols. description ends ).
3. Admiral Keppel was about to be court-martialed on charges by his subordinate officer Sir Hugh Palliser. The trial had profound political implications because Keppel was a whig and Palliser a supporter of the administration. The court completely exonerated Keppel. See DNB description begins Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, eds., The Dictionary of National Biography, New York and London, 1885–1900; 63 vols. plus supplements. description ends under both names; also JQA to AA, 16 Feb. 1779, below.