A cold morning. I remained at Quincy today. Most of my time spent with my Mother who was better and sat up some hours in conversation. I also read through Goldsmith’s charming little story of the 395Vicar of Wakefield,1 in consequence of my purchase the other day of Newton’s picture engraved by Burniè. There is a most fascinating union of shrewdness and simplicity, of genuine feeling and drollery developed in it’s natural forms. No exaggeration, no straining after strong lights and gaudy shows.
We dined early in order to accommodate Dr. Waterhouse who came over on his annual visit. He is now eighty years of age but time is heavy upon his intellect. He begins to repeat and to talk without object. The change is a painful one.2 It prefigures what we may all come to. It shows the dark side of this world. The Dr. is now a child under direction of no mild Mistress and perhaps that may have contributed to his decline. I left him to sit with my Mother.
Evening, a conversation with my father upon the subject of the old controversy with the federalists which has been revived by a private letter form old Mr. Pickman of Salem calling upon him for private explanation, in a friendly way.3 This has affected my father, and although he gives up nothing yet I think I see a little regret at his position. We discussed the opposed characters of Mr. Lowell and Mr. Otis, and the probable actors in the scheme of an Eastern confederacy—Col. Pickering one of the main pillars of it.
The Edinburgh, 1822, edition is at MQA.
JQA’s reactions after Dr. Waterhouse’s visit were similar: “His Spirit still lively, but his memory much decayed of which he is conscious, and his judgment, more than ever under the ascendancy of his Passions. It amounts to little short of dotage” (Diary, 30 Sept.). Nevertheless, there seems no loss of powers evident in his letters to JQA, 24 Sept. and 3 Oct. (both in Adams Papers). On Waterhouse and the Adamses, see also note 2 to entry for 27 June 1833, above.
Benjamin Pickman to JQA, 27 Sept. (Adams Papers). On JQA’s charges against the Massachusetts Federalists and the protracted controversy which followed, see vol. 2:297, 311, 312, 317; 3:63, 332, 418–420; 4:144, 423.