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Adams Family Papers : An Electronic Archive

John Adams diary 18, 17 June - 6 July 1771

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Paper book No. 18.
copied on Sheet. 12-19

[The preceding text was added in the handwriting of Charles Francis Adams]

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 [illegible Sat out upon the Eastern Circuit. Stopped at Boston, at my Office, and no where else. Came over Charlestown Ferry and Penny Ferry, and dined at Kettles in Malden, by the Meeting House. Kettle is a D [Deputy] Sherriff. The Meeting House is Mr. Thatchers.
I mounted my Horse and rode to Boston in a Cloth Coat and Waiscoat, but was much pinched with a cold, raw, harsh, N.E. Wind. At Boston I put on a thick Flannel Shirt, and that made me comfortable, and no more -- So cold am I or so cold is the Weather, 17th. June.
Overtook Judge Cushing in his old Curricle and 2 lean Horses, and Dick his Negro at his Right Hand driving the Curricle. This is the Way of travelling in 1771. A Judge of the Circuits, a Judge of the Superiour Court, a Judge of the Kings Bench, Common Pleas, and Exchequer for the Province, travells, with a Pair of wretched old jades of Horses, in a wretched old Dung Cart of a Curricle, and a Negro, on the same seat with him, driving. -- But we shall have more glorious Times anon -- When the Sterling Salaries are ordered out of the Revenue, to the judges &c., as many most ardently wish -- and the judges themselves, among the rest I suppose. Stopped at Martins in Lynn with J. Cushing, oated, and drank a Glass of Wine -- And heard him sigh and groan the Sighs and Groans of 77, tho he is yet active.

He conversed in his usual, hinting, insinuating, doubting, scrupling Strain.
Rode with King a D. Sherriff who came out to meet the judges, into Salem, put up at Goodhues. The Negro that took my Horse soon began to open his Heart. -- He did not like the People of Salem, wanted to be sold to Captn. John Dean of Boston. He earned 2 Dollars in a forenoon, and did all he could to give Satisfaction. But his Mistress was cross, and said he did not earn Salt to his Porridge, &c. and would not find him Cloaths &c.
Thus I find Discontents in all Men. The Black thinks his Merit rewarded with Ingratitude, and so does the white. The Black estimates his own Worth, and the Merit of his Services higher than any Body else. So does the White. This flattering, fond Opinion of himself, is found in every Man.
I have hurt myself to day, by taking cold in the forenoon and by drinking too much Wine, at Kettles and at Martins. I drank 1/2 Pint at Kettles and 2 Glasses at Martins.
Just after I had drank Tea, and got my Fire made in my Chamber, my old Neighbour Jo. Barell came and lodged at Goodhues in the same Chamber with me. His Grief is intense indeed. He spent the whole Evening

and a long Time after we got to Bed in lamenting the Loss of his Wife, in enumerating her Excellencies, &c. Heartily wishes himself with her. Would have been very glad to have gone with her. He married from pure Regard, utterly vs. the Will of his Mother and all his Friends because she was poor -- but she made him happy. She was the best of Women. The World has lost all its Charms to him. He never shall be happy but in another Wife, and the Chances are so much vs. his getting so good an one, that his Hopes are faint. He never will marry for Money. His Mother and sister shall never illtreat another Wife. His Children shall never be slighted. He would never part with his Children for a Thousand Indies. He never would have a Woman that should make them an Objection. He had tryed his Wife in Prosperity And Adversity, she had made him happy in both. Just as he had got over all his Difficulties, and Providence smiled upon his Business and affairs, she was taken from him. -- This Killing of Wives Mr. Adams is a dreadfull Thing. There is not an Hour but I think of her. I wish I was with her. I'd run the risque out this Moment. I never dined from her 3 Times in 6 years and 9 months, except on her Washing days. I never spent 3 Evenings from her in the whole Time. I am made for that sort of Life.

She begged of me, but just before she dyed, to be married again immediately. She knew I must be unhappy she said, without a Wife to take Care of me. She beckoned to me, but a few Minutes before she died,  [illegible when her Hands were as cold as clods. She whispered to me -- I love you now -- if I could but carry you and the Children with me I should go rejoicing. --
In this eloquent Strain of Grief did he run on. Millions of Thoughts, did this Conversation occasion me. I thought I should have had no Sleep all night -- however I got to sleep and slept well.
Rode with Mr. Barrell to Ipswich, and put up at Treadwells. Every Object recalls the Subject of Grief. Barrell all the Way to Ipswich was like the Turtle, bemoaning the Loss of his Mate. "Fine Season and beautifull Scenes, but they did not charm him as they used to. He had often rode this Way a Courting with infinite Pleasure," &c. I cant reallize that she has left me forever. When she was well I often thought I could reallize the Loss of her, but I was mistaken. I had no Idea of it. -- In short, this Mans Mournings have melted and softened me, beyond Measure.

Spent this Week at Ipswich in the usual Labours and Drudgery of Attendance upon Court. Boarded at Treadwells. Have had no Time to write.
Landlord and Landlady are some of the grandest People alive. Landlady is the great Grand Daughter of Governor Endicott, and has all the great Notions, of high Family, that you find in  [illegible Winslows, Hutchinsons, Quincys, Saltonstals, Chandlers, Leonards, Otis's, and as you might find, with more Propriety, in the Winthrops. Yet she is cautious, and modist about discovering of it. She is a new Light -- continually canting and whining in a religious Strain. The Governor was uncommonly strict, and devout, eminently so, in his day, and his great grand Daughter hopes to keep up the Honour of the family in hers, and distinguish herself among her Contemporaries as much."Terrible Things, Sin causes." Sighs and Groans. "The Pangs of the new Birth." "The death of Christ shews above all things the heignous Nature of sin!" "How awfully Mr. Kent talks about death! How lightly and carelessly. I am sure a Man of his Years who can talk so about Death, must be brought to feel the Pangs of the new Birth here, or made to repent of it forever." "How dreadfull it seems to me to hear him -- I, that am so afraid of death, and so concerned

lest I ant fit and prepared for it. -- What a dreadfull Thing it was, that Mr. Gridley died so -- too great, too big, too proud to learn any Thing. Would not let any Minister pray with him. Said he knew more than they could tell him -- asked the News and said he was going where he should hear no News," &c.
Thus far Landlady. As to Landlord, he is as happy and as big, as proud, as conceited, as any Nobleman in England. Always calm and good natured, and lazy, but the Contemplation of his farm, and his Sons and his House, and Pasture and Cows, his sound judgment as he thinks and his great Holiness as well as that of his Wife, keep him as erect in his Thoughts as a Noble or a Prince. Indeed the more I consider of Mankind, the more I see, that every Man, seriously, and in his Conscience believes himself, the wisest, brightest, best, happiest &c. of all Men.
I went this Evening, spent an Hour, and took a Pipe with Judge Trowbridge at his Lodgings. He says, "you will never get your Health, till your Mind is at ease. If you tire yourself with Business, but especially with Politicks, you wont get well," I said, I dont meddle with Politicks, nor think about em. -- "Except, says he, by Writing in the Papers."-- I'le be sworn, says I, I have not wrote one Line in a Newspaper these two Years, &c. -- The Judge says, he had an Hint, that Foster

Hutchinson was appointed judge because of the judgment of the Court in the Case of Spear vs. Keen. The Merchants took the Alarm, and said that instead of Lawyers they ought to have Merchants upon the Bench, and Mr. Hutchinson being both a Lawyer and a Merchant he was the Man, vs. the Governors Determination, a little time before. -- But this is one Instance among 1000 of the Governors Disguise, before those that he induces to believe has his entire familiarity and Confidence. He made Mr. Goffe understand he intended to make Worthington or some other Lawyer, a judge, when he fully designed to make his Brother, not indeed to please the Merchants, or because Foster was a Merchant, but because he was his Brother and that the family might have a Majority in that Court. He is impenetrable to those who dont desire to reach any Imperfection in him, and who are determined not to fathom him, where they may. The Bigotted, the Superstitious, the Enthusiastical, the Tools, the Interested, the Timid, are all dazzled with his Glare, and cant see clearly, when he is in the Horizon.
In the Morning my Horse was gone. Went to Meeting all day and heard old Mr. Rogers -- a good, well meaning man, I believe. After Meeting rode to Newbury, and visited Brother Lowell, Brother Farnham, and then went and supped with Mr. Jonathan Jackson, in Company with Capt. Tracy, Mr. Hooper, Mr. Williams, Mr. Frasier and Brother Lowell. Then went and lodged with Lowell.

Reached Portsmouth with Lowell, and walked half an Hour with him on the Town House Floor, with Mr. Livius and Mr. Jona. Warner, &c. Put up at Tiltons, and intend to visit the Governor this afternoon.
Had a good deal of Chat with Lowell on the Road. He practises much in New Hampshire, and gave me an Account of many strange judgments of the Superior Court at Portsmouth -- that an Infant, if allowed to trade by his Parents, is bound by his Contract, &c. And he gave me an Account also of the Politicks of the Province.  [illegible A Controversy is arising or has arisen in the Wentworth Family. The old Governor by his Will gave all his Estate to his Wife, and she is since married to one Michael Wentworth, which has a little disappointed the Governor, and he not long since asked the Advice of his Council whether he might not reassume the  [illegible Lands which were formerly granted by the late Governor to himself, or at least reserved to himself, in each Grant of a Township, and grant them over again to a 3d. Person from whom he might take a Conveyance of them to himself. All the Council except Livius, advised him to the Reassumption, He having laid before them the Opinion of S. Fitch of Boston, that the Governor could not grant Land to himself. Livius dissented and entered his Protest and gave his Reasons, for which the Governor has displaced him, as a judge of one of their Courts.

At Tiltons in Portsmouth I met with my Cousin Joseph Adams, whose Face, I was once as glad to see as I should have been to see an Angel. The Sight of him gave me a new feeling. When he was at Colledge, and used to come to Braintree with his Brother Ebenezer, how I used to love him. He is broken to Pieces with Rheumatism and Gout now. To what Cause is his Ruin to be ascribed?
After Dinner a Gentleman came to Tiltons to enquire me out, and it proved to be Mr. Pickering a Lawyer. He treated me with great Politeness, and seems a very sensible and well accomplished Lawyer.
After Dinner rode to York and put up at Ritchies, with Lowell and Bradbury.
At York Court, dined with the judges, and spent the Evening at Ritchies with Bradbury and Hale of Portsmouth, a sensible young Lawyer. Bradbury says there is no need of Dung upon your Mowing Land if you dont feed it in the Fall nor Spring. Let the old Fog remain upon it, and die and rot and be washed into the Ground, and dont suffer your Cattle to tread upon it and so poach and break the soil, and you will never want any Dung.

Recipe to make Manure.
Take the Soil and Mud, which you cutt up and throw out when you dig Ditches in a Salt Marsh, and put 20 Load of it in a heap. Then take 20 Loads of common Soil or mould of Upland and Add to the other. Then to the whole add 20 Loads of Dung, and lay the whole in a Heap, and let it lay 3 months, then take your Spades And begin at one End of the Heap, and dig it up and throw it into another Heap, there let it lie, till the Winter when the Ground is frozen, and then cart it on, to your English Grass Land. -- Ten or 20 Loads to an Acre, as you choose. -- Rob. Temple learnt it in England, and first practised it at Ten Hills. From him the Gentry at Cambridge have learnt it, and they all Practise it.
I will bring up 20 or 30 Loads, of this Salt Marsh Mud, and lay it in my Cow Yard upon the Sea Weed that is there, bring up that which lies in the Road by James Bracketts as we go to Mr. Quincys. Q [Query]. Would not a Load of fresh meadow Mud, and a Load of Salt Meadow Mud with some Sand, and some dung &c. make a good Mixture.

If I can so fence and secure Deacon Belchers and Lt. Belchers Orchards, as not to feed them at all in the Fall, Winter nor Spring I could get a fine Crop of English Hay from thence. But I must keep up my Fences all Winter to keep off my Neighbours Creatures, Hogs, Horses, Oxen, Cows and Sheep.
Yesterday I had a good deal of Conversation with Judge Trowbridge. He seems alarmed about the Powers of the Court of Probate. He says if Judge Danforth was to die Tomorrow, and the Governor was to offer that Place to him, he would not take it, because he thinks it ought always to be given to some Judge of the Inferiour Court, and then, some one Lawyer might be found in each County who would take a Seat upon the Inferiour Bench, if he could be made a Judge of Probate at the same Time. He says he is utterly against Foster Hutchinsons holding the Probate Office in Boston, if he takes his Place upon the Superior Bench -- and if the Governor is an integral Part, of the Court of Probate, the Supreme ordinary, i.e. if he is not, with the Members of the Council, only Primus inter Pares but has a Negative upon all their Decrees as Governor Shirley, Govr. Bernard and the late Secretary, were of Opinion, he thinks we may be

in great Danger from the Court of Probate, and Judge Russell always opposed every Attempt to extend the Power of the Court of Probate. -- He used to say We might have Bishops here, and the Court of Probate might get into their Hands, and therefore We ought to be upon our Guard.
At York. Yesterday I spent in Walking, one Way and another, to view the Town. I find that Walking serves me much. It sets my Blood in Motion much more than Riding.
Had some Conversation this Week with Chadburn of Berwick. He says, that Jo. Lee came to him, on the Election day Morning, and said "I know you are a peaceable Man. Why cant you vote for a few Gentlemen who would be agreable to the Governor and then perhaps some Gentlemen may not be negatived who would be agreable to you. Why cant you promote a Coalition?" Chadburn answered, I dont know who would be agreable to the Governor. I have not had a List. -- Lee then mentioned Mr. Ropes, Lt. Govr. Oliver, and some of the judges.Why cant you choose some of those old Statesmen, who have [been] long and intimately acquainted with the Policy of the Province? &c. -- Thus the Governors Emissaries are busy -- instilling, insinuating, their Notions, and Principles, &c.

Had a little Chat this Week with Coll. Sparhawk of Kittery. He says "Now you are come away, they are become peaceable. You kept up a shocking Clamour while you was there." -- This he said laughing, but there was rather too much Truth in it, to be made a jest. -- "They do you the justice to say that no Man ever spoke more freely, than you did, and in Opposition to the rising Sun. But in order to take off from your Virtue, they say there is some private Pique between the Governor and you." -- I told him there was none. He had always treated me well personally. If I had been actuated by private Pique, I would not have left the general Court but I would have remained there on Purpose to plague him. I could at least have been a Thorn in his Side -- &c. But that I had been fully convinced in my own Mind these 10 Years that he was determined to raise himself and family, at all Hazards, and even on the Ruins of the Province, and that I had uniformly expressed that Opinion these 10 Years.
Sparhawk mentioned the Intrepidity of Sam Adams, a Man he says of great Sensibility, of tender Nerves, and harrased, dependant, in their Power. Yet he had born up against all-it must have penetrated him very deeply, &c.

At Falmouth, at Mr. Jonathan Webbs, who has removed to an House very near the Court House.
Last Fryday Morning, I mounted with Brother Bradbury and his Brother Bradbury, at York for Falmouth, went over the Sands but could not ford Cape Nettick, and so was obliged to go round over the Bridge, by the Mill. Dined at Littlefields in Wells, drank Tea and lodged at Allens at Biddeford. Coll. Ting and his Son in Law Jo. Tyler came along and lodged there, Tyng being the owner of the House and Farm there 47 Rods wide upon the River and 4 miles and an half long. Next day Saturday it rained, and Jona. Sewall, Mr. Lowell and Mr. Leonard Jarvis came in, and afternoon Judges Lynde and Cushing with their Servants. But the House had not Lodgings for them. The Judges went back to Lads [Ladds], Sewall and Lowell went to James Sullivans. Sunday Morning the Weather was fair, and We set off, for Scarborough, put up at Millikins, went to Meeting forenoon and afternoon, heard Mr. Briggs a young Gentleman and after

Meeting rode to Falmouth, and I put up at Webbs where I have been ever since reading the Atchievements of Don Quixotte.
This has been the most flat, insipid, spiritless, tasteless journey that ever I took, especially from Ipswich. I have neither had Business nor Amusement, nor Conversation. It has been a moaping, melancholly Journey upon the whole. I slumber, and moap, away the Day. Tyng, Tyler, Sewall, Lowell, Jarvis were all Characters which might have afforded me Entertainment, perhaps Instruction, if I had been possessed of Spirits to enjoy it.
Saturday afternoon, I projected making a back Gammon Table, and about it Sewall, Lowell and Jarvis and Jo. Tyler went, got Pieces of Cedar, &c. and while they were playing I went to sleep.
Sunday Jarvis was telling of an Instance of Cruelty and Inhumanity in Hall the Wharfinger in Boston in ordering a poor Widow to be taken with a single Writ, when her Daughter was dying, and of his being Bail for her. Sewall said Hall would certainly be damned and you will certainly  [illegible go to Heaven let you do what you will.

I feel myself weary of this wandering Life. My Heart is at Home. It would be more for my Health to ride to Boston every fair Morning, and to Braintree every fair Afternoon. This would be riding enough and I could there have  [illegible one Eye to my office, and another to my farm. After my Return I shall try the Experiment.
In the Evening went to the Clubb, or friendly Society as they call themselves, where I found Wm. Cushing, Wyer, with whom I went, i.e. at his Invitation, Mr. Lyde, Child, Symmons, Jarvis, Dr. Coffin, Captn. Wait and Don Webb &c. Conversation decent, but upon Trifles and common Matters.

Saw Mr. Simmons at Court, a Gentleman from England who has been at Falmouth a No. of [years] as a Factor for several Merchants in England purchasing Deals.

Dined with D. Wyer, in Company with his Father, Farnum, Sewall, Cushing, Sewall, Lowell &c. Conversation turns upon Revelations, Prophecies, Jews, &c.
Spent the Evening, with the Barr, at Shattucks the Tavern in high Spirits. Agreed unanimously to recommend Tim. Langdon, to be sworn. All in good Spirits, very chearfull, and chatty -- many good stories, &c. This day Argued the Cause of Freeman and Child, a Suit for 10 Penalty, for taking greater Fees in the Custom House than those allowed by the Province Law.
Cadwallader Ford came to me this Morning, and congratulated me on the Verdict for Freeman. -- Sir, says he, I shall think myself forever obliged to you, for the Patriotick manner in which you conducted that Cause. You have obtained great Honour in this County, by that Speech. I never heard a better &c. -- All this is from old Cadwallader. Langdon told me, that a Man came running down, when I had done speaking, and said "That Mr. Adams has been making the finest Speech I ever heard in my Life. He's equall to the greatest orator that ever spoke in Greece or Rome." -- What an Advantage it is to have the Passions, Prejudices, and Interests of the whole Audience, in a Mans Favour.

These will convert plain, common Sense, into profound Wisdom, nay wretched Doggerell into sublime Heroics. This Cause was really, and in truth and without  [illegible Partiality, or Affectation of Modesty, very indifferently argued by me. But I have often been surprized with Claps and Plauditts, and Hosannas, when I have spoke but indifferently, and as often met with Inattention and Neglect when I have thought I spoke very well. -- How vain, and empty is Breath!

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Cite web page as: John Adams diary 18, 17 June - 6 July 1771 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society. http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/
Original manuscript: Adams, John. John Adams diary 18, 17 June - 6 July 1771. Folded sheets with paper covers (19 pages, 57 additional pages). Original manuscript from the Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
Source of transcription: Butterfield, L.H., ed. Diary and Autobiography of John Adams. Vol. 2. Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1961.