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such thing happens, but the greatest Decency and Respect is shown by all orders to the female Character. The Stage is in London made use of as a vehicle to corrupt the Morals. in Paris no such thing is permitted, they are too Polite to wound the Ear. in one Country, vice is like a ferocious Beast, seeking whom it may devour: in the other like a subtle Poison secretly penetrating and working destruction. in one Country you cannot travel a mile without danger to your person and Property, yet Publick executions abound; in the other your person and property are safe; executions are Rare. but in a Lawful way, Beware, for with whomsoever you have to deal, you may rely upon an attempt to overreach you. In the Graces of motion and action this People shine unrivalled. the Theatres exhibit to me the most pleasing amusement I have yet found; the little knowledge I have of the Language, enables me to judge here, and the actions to quote an old phrase, speak louder than words. I was the other Evening at what is called the French Theatre (to distinguish it from several others) it being the only one upon which tragedies are acted. here I saw a piece of the celebrated Racine, a sacred Drama called Athalia. the dresses were superb, the House Elegant and Beautiful, the Actors beyond the reach of my pen. The Character of the high-Priest admirably well supported and Athalia, would have shown as Sophonisba, or Lady Macbeth: if the term shine, may be applied to a Character full of Cruelty and Horrour: to these publick Spectacles (and to every other amusement) you may go, with perfect security to your Person and property; Decency and good order, are preserved, yet are they equally crowded with those of London, but in London, at going in and coming out of the Theatre, you find yourself in a Mob: and are every Moment in Danger of being robbed; in short the term John Bull which Swift formerly gave to the English Nation, is still very applicable to their Manners; the cleanliness of Britain joined to the civility and politeness of France, would make a most agreeable assemblage: you will smile at my Choice, but as I am like to reside sometime in this Country, why should I not wish them the article in which they are most deficient.
It is the established Custom of this Country for Strangers to
make the first visit; not speaking the Language lays me under embarassments, for to visit a Lady, merely to bow to her, is painful especially where they are so fond of conversing, as the Ladies here generally are, so that my female acquaintance is rather confined as yet, and my residence 4 miles from Paris will make it still more so. There are four American Ladies who have visited me, Mrs. Barclay,1 with whom I have a Friendship and whom I can call upon at all times without Ceremony, and who is an excellent Lady; a Mrs. Price, a canadian Lady, Mrs. Valnais, and Mrs. Bingham.2 Mrs. Bingham is a very young Lady, not more than twenty, very agreeable, and very handsome: rather too much given to the foibles of the Country for the mother of two Children,3 which she already is.
As to politicks, Madam, the world is at Peace, and I have wholly done with them. Your good Husband and mine would speculate upon treaties of Commerce, could they spend their Evenings together, as I sincerely wish they could, or upon what they love better, agriculture, and Husbandry; which is become full as necessary for our Country. This same surly John Bull is kicking up the Dust and growling, looking upon the fat pastures he has lost, with a malicious and envious Eye, and though he is offered admission upon Decent Terms, he is so mortified and stomachful, that although he longs for a morcel, he has not yet agreed for a single Bite. This Village of Auteuil, where we reside is four miles from Paris, and one from Passy, a very pretty Summer retreat, but not so well calculated for Winter: I fear it will prove as cold as Milton Hill; if I was to judge of the Winters here by what I have experienced of the fall I should think they were equally severe as with us. we begin already to find fires necessary.
During the little time I was in England, I saw more of the curiosities of London than I have yet seen of Paris so that I am not able to give you any account of any publick Buildings or
I Wife of Thomas Barclay, one of the Continental Commissioners for settling accounts in Europe.
2 Anne Willing of Philadelphia.
3 The elder daughter, Anne Louisa, married in 1798, Alexander Baring, later Lord Ashburton (1774-1848), and the younger, Maria Matilda, married (1) James Alexander, comte de Tilly (1764–1816), (2) Henry Baring and (3) the Marquis de Blaisel.
4 See Writings of John Adams, IX. 524.
amusements, except the Theatres of which I shall grow very fond, as soon as I am mistress enough of the Language to comprehend all the Beauties of it. there are three theatres in Paris constantly open, but that upon which tragedies are acted is the most pleasing to me. Corneille, Racine, Crébillon and Molière are very frequently given here. upon the Stage the best pronunciation is to be acquired. There is a Mrs. Siddons in London, who is said to be the female Garrick of the present day. I had not the happiness to see her when I was in London, as she was then in Ireland, but I saw no actors upon their Stage, which by any means equal those which I have met with here. The People of this Country, keep up their intercourse with each other by dining together after which they repair to the Theatres and to the publick walks.
I sigh (though not allow'd) for my social tea parties which I left in America, and the friendship of my chosen few, and their agreeable converse would be a rich repast to me, could I transplant them round me in the Village of Auteuil, with my habits, tastes and Sentiments, hich are too firmly rivetted to change with change of Country or Climate, and at my age the greatest of my enjoyments consisted in the reciprocation of Friendship.
How is my good friend Charles? finely recovered I hope. I do not despair of seeing him here, and at this house he may be assured of a welcome whenever he wishes to try the air of France. Gay Harry, has he got more flesh and Health? Grave Mr. George is well I hope, and fixed in some business to his mind. Let not my esteemed Friend the eldest of the Brothers, think I have forgotten. or neglected him by naming him last. his tenderness for his Brothers, and his better Health will excuse me, if I have been guilty of a breach of order. he will accept my good wishes for his Health and Prosperity without regard to place.
Shall I ask General Warren how farming and Husbandry flourish; I thought often of him, and the delight he would have received in a Journey from Deal to London. the rich variety of grass and Grain, with which that Country was loaded as I rode through it, exhibited a prospect of the highest cultivation. all Nature look'd like a Garden; the Villages around Paris are pleasant: but neither the Land, nor the cultivation equal a neighbouring Nation.
When you see our good Friend Madam Winthrop, be pleased to make my regards to her; you will also remember me to your Neighbours at the foot of the Hill; and let me hear from you by every opportunity, as the correspondence of my Friends is the only compensation I can receive for the loss of their Society.
Is Polly married? Happiness attend her and her partner if she is. to Mr. and Mrs. Otis, to one and all of my dear Friends be kind enough to remember me; the truth of one Maxim of Rochefoucault I experience "that absence heightens rather than diminishes those affections which are strong and Sincere.
December 12th. You will see, my dear Madam, by the date of the above, that my Letter has lain by long, waiting a private conveyance. Mr. Tracy and Mr. Jackson, design to return to London this week and I shall request the favour of them to take charge of it. Since it was written there have been some changes in the political world, and the Emperor has recalled his Ambassador from the United Provinces. Every thing seems to wear an Hostile Appearance. the Dutch are not in the least intimidated but are determined at all events to refuse the opening of the Scheld to the Emperor. this Court is endeavouring to Mediate between the Emperor and the Dutch. when the affair was to be debated in the Kings Counsel, the Queen said to the Count de Vergennes, "M. le Comte, you must remember that the Emperor is my brother." "I certainly shall Madam," replied the Count, "but your Majesty will remember that you are Queen of France.'
Thus much for Politicks. you ask about treaties of Commerce. Courts like Ladies, stand upon Punctilios and chuse to be address'd upon their own ground I am not at Liberty to say more.
This is the 12th of December, and we have got an American Snow Storm. the climate is not so pleasant as I expected to find it; I love the cheerful Sun shine of America, and the Clear blue Sky.
Adieu my dear Madam. I have so much writing to do, that I am, tho unwillingly obliged to close requesting my Son to copy for me: you will not fail writing soon to your Friend and humble Servant.1 ABIGAIL ADAMS
I The body of the letter is in the writing of John Quincy Adams. A letter from John Adams to Mercy Warren, December 13, 1784, is in Writings of John Adams, Ix. 528.
JAMES WARREN TO JOHN ADAMS
MY DEAR SIR, — I Received your favour of the 27th August sometime ago, and Intended before this to have wrote to you; but want of direct conveyance and some other Circumstances have prevented.
I am very Glad to find my Friends so agreeably situated at Auteuil. At the same time the preference given to the Hills of Penn and Neponsit give me an additional pleasure by affording a prospect of once more seeing them in their Neighbourhood. I always feel your Mortification when the reduction of your Salaries took place. the measure was unexpected and astonishing. I had never heard of a proposal of the kind and I considered it as a finess under the popular masque of œconomy to answer particular purposes, which general and good policy would not warrant. my Enquiries have Convinced me of the Justness of my own Sentiments. I suppose it originated from the then Premier, the King, or Grand Monarch of America,1 and was designed to get rid of those Men who were Employed abroad, and could not be brought into a support of foreign Measures, and those of the Aristocracy here, which were closely united and made a Common Cause, in support of which the most refined Intrigue has been practised, and at Times and in some Instances deceived and duped some very good Men. I presume our Friend Gerry was in Opposition to this measure, because his Penetration and rectitude has always secured him against their Artifice. But this is Conjecture. I have never heard the Matter from him. But I hope this matter will be reconsidered and all honest men have Justice done them. Congress seems at present to be well disposed. they have got clear of that sink of Corrupt Influence which so long Contaminated some of their measures, and, God be thanked, have substituted a Board of Treasury in the stead of the super Intendant of Finnance, an Office which made rapid strides to Dominion, and if the cautious Wisdom of R. Island, by Negativing the proposed Impost, had not prevented, would soon have found a King for us. And this
1 Robert Morris.