Diary of John Quincy Adams, volume 2



28th. JQA 28th. Adams, John Quincy

The weather was pleasant. Townsend rode, this day. I pass'd the evening with him: and found Miss Knight at Mrs. Hooper's. After having dismiss'd two or three inconstant suitors, she is 381now address'd by a Mr. Gregory from Boston, to whom she will probably soon be united. With all the charms of beauty richly fraught, Lucinda's form my fond attention caught. A faultless person and a lovely mind, I found with wonder, were in her combin'd Deficient only in a single part, She wanted nothing but a feeling heart. Calm and unruffled as a Summer Sea, From Passions gale's Lucinda's breast is free, A faithless lover she may well defy Recall her heart nor breathe a single sigh And should a second prove inconstant too She changes on till she can find one true.1 Such a character may be esteemed; it may likewise be beloved, for she has had more than one Lover; but their unsteadiness may possibly derive some excuse from this very disposition of her's: for my own part, I never could conceive such sentiments with respect to her, as would enable me to be inconstant.


This stanza and the one recorded in the entry for 8 April (below) were later incorporated in “A Vision.” This work, begun as early as 30 Jan. 1787 but not completed until June 1790, became a satirical sketch of nine young women whom JQA knew during his years in Newburyport. It remained unpublished until Dec. 1839, when Brother Jonathan, the weekly edition of the New York Evening Tattler, printed it from an MS copy. Later the poem was published in JQA's Poems of Religion and Society, Auburn and Buffalo, N.Y., 1853, and Currier's Newburyport , 2:541–547. The only known MS copy of the work in JQA's hand is in M/JQA/28, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 223. Upon rereading the printed version in 1839, JQA regarded it as an unequaled effort. “As a Poet I have never surpassed it,” he wrote; “My summit level as a Statesman, Orator, Philosopher and Proser is of about the same elevation” (William Cranch to JQA, 10 June 1790, Adams Papers; JQA, Diary, 25, 28 Dec. 1839, Memoirs , 10:176–177).