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Adams Family Papers : An Electronic Archive

John Adams diary 45, 24 - 28 July 1786

Went with Mr. Bridgen, Col. Smith,Mrs. Smith, to The Hide in Essex, the Country Seat of Brand Hollis Esqr. We breakfasted at Rumford, and turned out of the Way to see the Seat of Lord Petre at Thorndon.Mr. Hollis prefers the Architecture of this House to that at Stow, because it is more conformable to Paladio, his Bible for this kind of Knowledge. There are in the back Front six noble Corinthian Pillars. There is a grand Saloon unfinished in which are many ancient Pictures, one of Sir Thomas More, his Wife and two Daughters, with a Group of other Figures. There is in another Appartment, a Picture of the Cornaro Family by Titian. This House is vast, and the Appartements are grand and the Prospects from the Windows are extensive and agreable. The furniture is rich and elegant. The Pictures of King James the 2d, of Lord Derwentwater who was beheaded in 1715, as well as many others besides that of Sir Thomas More, shew that the Family is Catholick. The Library shews this more fully as the Books are generally of that kind, but the Chapel furnishes full proof. The Library is semicircular, with Windows and Mahogany Collonades, very elegant, but contrived more as an ornamented Passage to the Chappell, than for Study. There are two Stoves, but at neither of them could a Student be comfortable in cold Weather. I might talk of Glades and Forrests, Groves and Clumps, with which this House is surrounded like all other Palaces of the kind.

We dined at the Hide, with Mr. Brand Hollis and his Sister Miss Brand. This is a curious Place. The House is the Residence of an Antiquarian, as most of the Apartments as well as the great Hall, sufficiently shew. I will perhaps take a List of all the Antiques in this Hall. The most interesting to me is the Bust of my Friend as well as Mr. Brands Friend, the late Thomas Hollis Esq., in beautifull white Marble.
This House which is a decent handsome one was the Seat of Mr. Brands Father, and the Chamber where We lodge, is hung round with the Portraits of the Family. It is at the End of the House, and from two Windows in front and two others at the End, We have a pleasant View of Lawns and Glades, Trees and Clumps and a Piece of Water, full of Fish. The Borders, by the Walks, in the Pleasure Grounds, are full of rare Shrubbs and Trees, to which Collection America has furnished her full Share. I shall here have a good Opportunity to take a List of these Trees, Shrubbs and Flours. Larches, Cypruses, Laurells are here as they are every where.Mr. Brand Hollis has, planted near the Walk from his Door to the Road, a large and beautifull Furr, in Honour of the late Dr. Jebb his Friend. A Tall Cyprus in his Pleasure Grounds he calls General Washington, and another his Aid du Camp Col. Smith.
Mr. Brand Hollis and Mr. [Editors of published Vol. 3 state that "Mr." is a slip of the pen for "Miss."] Brand,Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and Mr. and Mrs. Adams, took a ride to Chelmsford, stopped at a Booksellers, the Printer of a Newspaper in which Mr. B. Hollis had printed the late Act of Virginia in favour

of equal religious Liberty. We then went to Moulsham Hall, built originally by Lord Fitzwalter, but lately owned by Sir William Mildmay, one of the Commissaries with Governor Shirley at Paris in 1754, for settling the Boundaries between the French and English in America. Lady Mildmay owns it, at present, but is not yet come down from London. Mr. B. Hollis admires the Architecture of this House, because it is according to the Principles of Palladio. The Apartments are all well proportioned in Length, Breadth and Height. There is here a Landscape of Rembrandt. The Words Halls, Parlours, Saloons and Drawing Rooms occur upon these Occasions, but to describe them would be endless. We returned by another road through the race grounds, to the Hide and after Dinner, made a Visit to the Gardiners House to see his Bees. He is Bee mad,Mr. B. Hollis says. He has a number of Glass Hives, and has a curious Invention to shut out the Drones. He has nailed thin and narrow Laths at the Mouth of the Hive, and has left Spaces between them barely wide enough for the small Bees to creep through. Here and there he has made a Notch in the lath large enough for a Drone to pass, but this Notch he has covered with a thin light clapper which turns easily upwards upon a Pivot. The Drone easily lifts up the Clapper and comes out, but as soon as he is out, the Clapper falls

and excludes the Drone, who has neither Skill nor Strength to raise it on the outside. Thus shut out from the Hive the Gardiner destroys them because he says they do nothing but eat Honey. The Gardiner who is a Son of Liberty, and was always a Friend to America, was delighted with this Visit. Dame says he to his Wife, you have had the greatest honour done you to day that you ever had in your Life. -- Mr. B. Hollis says he is a proud Scotchman, but a very honest Man and faithfull Servant. -- After Tea Mr. B. Hollis and I took a circular Walk, round the Farm. He shew Us a kind of Medallion, on which was curiously wrought a Feast of all the Heathen Gods and Goddesses sitting round a Table. Jupiter throws down upon the Middle of it, one of his Thunder bolts, flaming at each End with Lightning, and lights his own Pipe at it, and all the others follow his Example. Venus is whiffing like a Dutchman, so is Diana and Minerva, as well as Mars, Bachus and Apollo.
Mr. B. Hollis is a great Admirer of Marcus Aurelius. He has him in Busts, and many other Shapes. He observed to me, that all the Painters of Italy, and from them most others, have taken the Face of Marcus Aurelius, for a Model in painting Jesus Christ. He admires Julian too, and has a great veneration for Dr. Hutchinson, the Moral Writer who was his Tutor, or Instructor . He has a Number of Heads of Hutchinson, of whom he always speaks with Affection and Veneration. Ld. Shaftesbury too is another favourite of his.
In the dining room are two Views of that Estate in Dorsetshire, which the late Mr. Hollis gave to Mr. Brand. There is only a Farm House upon it. Here are to be seen Hollis Mede and Brand Pasture.

In Hollis Mede, Mr. Hollis was buried, ten feet deep, and then ploughed over, a Whim to be sure. But Singularity was his Characteristic. He was benevolent and beneficient, however, throughout. -- In the Boudoir is a Dagger, made of the Sword which killed Sir Edmunbury Godfrey. An Inscription -- Memento Godfrey, Protomartyr, pro Religione Protestantium.
Mr. Hollis's Owl, Cap of Liberty and Dagger are to be seen every where. In the Boudoir, a Silver cup with a Cover, all in the shape of an Owl, with two rubies for Eyes. This piece of Antiquity was dug up, at Canterbury, from ten feet depth. It was some monkish conceit.
Mr. B. Hollis, Miss Brand, Mrs. Adams, Mrs. Smith, and I walked to Mill Green, or Mill Hill the Seat of a Mr. Allen a Banker of London. We walked over the Pleasure Grounds and Kitchen Garden and down to Cocytus, a canal or Pond of Water surrounded with Wood in such a Manner as to make the Place gloomy enough for the Name. This is a good Spot, but Mr. Allen has, for want of Taste, spoiled it by new Pickett Fences at a great Expence. He has filled up the Ditches and dug up the Hedges and erected wooden Fences and brick Walls, a folly that I believe in these days is unique. They are very good, civil People, but have no Taste.
Went with Mrs. Adams to Braintree about Eighteen miles from the Hide.

As our Objects were fresh Air, Exercise and the Gratification of Curiosity, I thought We ought to make a little Excursion to the Town after which the Town in New England where I was born and shall die was originally named. The Country between Chelmsford and Braintree, is pleasant and fertile, tho less magnificent in Buildings and Improvements than many other Parts of England: but it is generally tillage Land and covered with good Crops of Barley, Oats, Rye, Wheat and Buckwheat.
Braintree is a Markett Town, and Fairs are held here at certain Seasons. I went to the Church, which stands in the Middle of a triangular Piece of Ground, and there are parallell to each Side of the Tryangle, double Rows of handsome Lime Trees, which form the Walks and Avenues to the Church. The Church is a very old Building of Flint Stones. Workmen were repairing it, and I went all over it. It is not much larger than [Mr] Cleverleys Church at Braintree in New England. I examined all the Monuments and Grave Stones in the Church and in the Church Yard, and found no one Name of Person or Family of any Consequence, nor did I find any Name of any of our New

New England Families except Wilson and Joslyn,Hawkins,Griggs and Webb. I am convinced that none of our Braintree Families came from this Village, and that the Name was given it by Mr. Coddington in Compliment to the Earl of Warwick, who in the Begginning and Middle of the Seventeenth Century had a Manor here, which however at his death about 1665 went out of his Family. The Parish of Bocking has now more good Houses. Braintre is at present the Residence only of very ordinary People, manufacturers only of Bays's.
Chelmsford was probably named in Compliment to Mr. Hooker who was once Minister of that Town in Essex, but afterwards in Holland, and after that Minister at "Newtown" (Cambridge) and after that at New Haven Hartford in New England. We returned to Dinner, and spent the Evening in examining the Curiosities of Mr. Thomas Brand Hollis's House. His Library, his Miltonian Cabinet, his Pictures, Busts, Medals, Coins, Greek, Roman, Carthaginian and Egyptian Gods and Goddesses, are a Selection of the most rare, and valuable. It would be endless to go over the whole in Description.
We have had, with Alderman Bridgen, an agreable Tour and an exquisite Entertainment.

I should not omit Alderman Bridgens Nuns, and Verses. About 30 Years ago Mr. Bridgen in the Austrian Netherlands purchased a compleat Collection of the Portraits of all the orders of Nuns, in small duodecimo Prints. These he lately sent as a Present to the Hide, and Mr. Hollis has placed them in what he calls his Boudoir, a little room between his Library and Drawing Room.Mr. Bridgen carried down with him a Copy of Verses of his own Composition, to be hung up with them. The Idea is that banished from Germany by the Emperor they were taking an Asylum at the Hide, in sight of the Druid, the Portico of Athens and the verable 4 Remains of Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Carthaginian Antiquities.
Returned to Grosvenor Square to Dinner.

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Cite web page as: John Adams diary 45, 24 - 28 July 1786 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society. http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/
Original manuscript: Adams, John. John Adams diary 45, 24 - 28 July 1786. Folded sheets without covers (8 pages, 12 additional blank 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. 3 Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1961.