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mountains and bad roads.
You would have been diverted to have seen us all mounted upon our mules and marching in train. From the mountains we had all along the prospect of a rich, fertile country, cultivated up to the tops of the highest hills and down to the very edge of water, all along the shore.
I made my visit last night to the governor of the province, who resides here, and to the governor of the town, and was politely received by both. I have a long journey before me of a thousand miles, I suppose, at least, to Paris. Through this kingdom we shall have bad roads and worse accommodations. I don 't expect to be able to get to Paris in less than thirty days. I shall have an opportunity of seeing Spain, but it will be at a great expense. I am advised by every body to go by land. The frigate, the Sensible, is in so bad condition as to make it probable she will not be fit to put to sea in less than three or four weeks, perhaps five or six; and then we should have the storms and enemies of the Bay of Biscay to escape or encounter. After this wandering way of life is passed, I hope to return to my best friend and pass the remainder of our days in quiet.
I cannot learn that Great Britain is yet in temper to listen to propositions of peace, and I don't expect before another winter to have much to do in my present capacity. My tenderest affection to our dear children, and believe me
MY DEAREST FRIEND,
Bilboa, 16 January, 1780.
WE arrived here last night, all alive, but all very near sick with violent colds taken on the road for want of comfortable accommodations. I was advised on all hands to come by land rather than wait an uncertain time for a passage by sea. But if I had known the difficulties of travelling in that part of Spain which I have passed through, I think I should not have ventured upon the journey. It is in vain to attempt a description of our passage. Through the province of Gallicia, and again when we came to that of Biscay, we had an uninterrupted succession of mountains ; through that of Leon and the old Castile, constant plains. A country tolerably good by nature, but not well cultivated. Through the whole of the journey the taverns were inconvenient to us, because there are no chimneys in their houses, and we had cold weather. A great part of the way, the wretchedness of our accommodation exceeds all description.
At Bilboa we fare very well, and have received much civility from Messrs. Gardoqui and Sons, as we did at Ferrol and Corunna from M. de Tournelle and M. Lagoanere. I wish I could send you some few things for the use of the family from hence, but the risk is such, that I believe I had better wait until we
but my family and peace to one of the happiest of men. and bellow at this description. will, for he is but a brute.
my country, to make me John Bull would growl
Let him bellow if he
Passy, 27 February, 1779.
THE weather continuing fine, I went to Saint Denis, a little village about eight miles from this place, where are the tombs of all the kings and queens. The statues of all lie in state in marble. The church is called the royal Church of Saint Denis, is magnificent, and there is an apartment in a chamber, where the crowns and many other curiosities are preserved. It is curious to see such a collection of gold, ivory and precious stones; as there is every species, I suppose, that is mentioned in the Revelation. The diamonds and rubbies glitter. But I confess I have so much of the savage sachem in me, that these things make no great impression upon me. There are several little crucifixes here, which the ecclesiastic, who showed them, told us, were made of bits of the true This may be, for any thing that I know.
In my return, I took a circuit round by Montmartre, and dined at home with the Dr., who has a fit of the gout, but is getting better.
The situation in which my masters have left me puzzles me very much. They have said nothing to me. But one set of gentlemen write that I am to go to Spain, another to Holland, a third to Vienna; but, upon the whole, I believe they don't intend to send me to either, but leave me to stay here in a ridiculous situation, or return home if I can get there. I shall return unless I should receive, before the time arrives for the vessel to sail, orders which I can execute with honor, and with a prospect of rendering some service to the public. But of these two last points, I will judge for myself.
MY DEAREST FRIEND,
L'Orient, 14 May, 1779.
WHEN I left Paris, the 8th of March, I expected to have been at home before this day, and have done my utmost to get to sea, but the embarrassments and disappointments I have met with have been many, very many. I have, however, in the course of them, had a fine opportunity of seeing Nantes, L'Orient and Brest, as well as the intermediate country.
By the gracious invitation of the King, I am now to take passage in his frigate, the Sensible, with his new Ambassador to America, the Chevalier de la
Luzerne. I hope to see you in six or seven weeks. Never was any man in such a state of uncertainty and suspense as I have been from last October, entirely uninformed of the intentions of Congress concerning me. This would not have been very painful to me if I could have got home. Your conversation is a compensation to me for all other things.
My son has had a great opportunity to see this country; but this has unavoidably retarded his education in some other things. He has enjoyed perfect health, from first to last, and is respected wherever he goes, for his vigor and vivacity both of mind and body, for his constant good humor, and for his rapid progress in French as well as his general knowledge, which, for his age, is uncommon. I long to see his sister and brothers. I need not add
Boston, 13 November, 1779.
MY DEAREST FRIEND,
I HAVE just sent Mr. Thaxter, Johnny and Stevens with the things on board. I shall go with Charles' at four o'clock. It is now three. I have seen the captain and the navy board, etc. It is proposed to sail tomorrow; perhaps, however, it may not be till next
1 Mr. Adams's second son.