Diary of John Adams, volume 2

1771. Saturday June 8th. JA 1771. Saturday June 8th. Adams, John
1771. Saturday June 8th.

Bissill says, there are Settlements, upon this River, for 300 Miles— i.e. from Seabrook Saybrook where it discharges itself. The River, in the Spring, when the Snow melts, swells prodigiously and brings down the Washings of Mountains and old Swamps, rotten Wood and Leaves &c. to inrich the Intervale Lands, upon its banks.

At eleven O Clock arrived at Wrights in Weathersfield. I have spent this Morning in Riding thro Paradise. My Eyes never beheld so fine a Country. From Bissills in Windsor to Hartford Ferry, 8 Miles, is one continued Street—Houses all along, and a vast Prospect of level Country on each Hand, the Lands very rich and the Husbandry pretty good. The Town of Hartford is not very compact, there are some very handsome and large Houses, some of brick. The State House is pretty large, and looks well. I stopped only to oat my Horse and get my Head and Face shaved, and then rode to Weathersfield 4 miles, on the West Side of the River.—Here is the finest Ride in America, I believe. Nothing can exceed the Beauty, and Fertility of the Country. The Lands upon the River, the flatt low Lands, are loaded with rich, noble Crops of Grass, and Grain and Corn. Wright says, some of their Lands, will yeild 2 Crops of English Grass, and two Ton and an half at each Crop, and plenty of after feed besides—but these must be nicely managed and largely dunged. They have in Weathersfield a large brick Meeting House, Lockwood the Minister. A Gentleman came in and told me, that there was not such another Street in America as this at Weathersfield excepting one at Hadley, and that Mr. Ingersol the Stamp Master told him, he had never seen in Phyladelphia nor in England, any Place equal to Hartford and Weathersfield.—One Joseph Webb, one 29Deane1 and one Verstille, are the principal Traders here, both in English and W. India Goods.

Dined at the Widow Griswalls Griswolds in Weathersfield about 3 Miles from Wrights, the Road and Country are equally pleasant all the Way. Sat down to Table with the old Woman and another Woman, and a dirty, long, greybearded Carpenter who was at Work for Landlady, and might be smelled from one Room to the other—So that these Republicans are not very decent or neat. Landlady and her House-wright very very chatty about Boston, Providence, Newport, Marthas Vineyard And Nantuckett. Landlady says the Deputy Governor calls here and always has some comical Story to tell her. He asked her tother day to come down and see his Wife make cheese. He has 22 Cows, and his Women make Cheese in the forenoon and then dress up and go out, or receive Company at home.

Rode to Middletown, and put up for the Sabbath at Shalers, near the Court House. Middleton I think is the most beautifull Town of all. When I first opened2 into the Town which was upon the Top of a Hill, there opened before me the most beautifull Prospect of the River, and the Intervals and Improvements, on each Side of it, and the Mountains at about 10 Miles distance both on the East and West Side of the River, and of the main Body of the Town at a Distance. I went down this Hill, and into a great Gate, which led me to the very Banks of the River. The Road lies here along the Bank of the River and on the right Hand is a fine level Tract of Interval Land as rich as the Soil of Egypt. The Lotts are divided by no Fence, but here are Strips runing back at right Angles from the River, on one is Indian Corn, on another Parrallell to it is Rye, on another Barley, on another Flax, on another a rich Burden of Clover and other English Grasses, and after riding in this enchanting Meadow for some Time you come to another Gate, which lets you into the main Body of the Town, which is ornamented as is the Meadow I just mentioned, with fine Rows of Trees and appears to me as populous, as compact and as polite as Hartford.

The Air all along from Somers to Middleton appears to me to be very clear, dry, and elastic. And therefore, if I were to plan another Journey for my Health, I would go from Boston to Lancaster and Lunenbourg, thence to No. 4.3 and thence down to N. Hampton, Deerfield, Hadley, Springfield, then to Endfield, and along the River down to Seabrook, and from thence over to Rhode Island and from thence to Braintree. And here I might possibly, i.e. at No. 4. look up some Land to purchase for my Benefit, or the Benefit of my Children. But I hope I shall not take another Journey merely for my Health very soon. I feel sometimes 30sick of this—I feel guilty—I feel as if I ought not to saunter and loyter and trifle away this Time—I feel as if I ought to be employed, for the Benefit of my fellow Men, in some Way or other.

In all this Ramble from Stafford, I have met with nobody that I knew, excepting Jo. Trumble, who with his father the Governor were crossing the ferry for the East Side when I was for the West.

Bespoke Entertainment for the Sabbath, at Shalers, and drank Tea. She brought me in the finest and sweetest of Wheat Bread, and Butter, as yellow as Gold, and fine Radishes, very good Tea and sugar. I regaled without Reserve. But my Wife is 150 Miles from me at least, and I am not yet homeward bound. I wish Connecticutt River flowed through Braintree. But the barren rocky Mountains of Braintree are as great a Contrast as can be conceived to the level smoth, fertile Plains of this Country. Yet Braintree pleases me more.

I long to be foul of Deacon Belchers Orchard. I am impatient to begin my Canal, and banks, to convey the Water all round, by the Road and the House. I must make a Pool in the Road by the Corner of my Land at the Yard in front of the House, for the cool Spring Water to come into the Road there—that the Cattle, and Hogs, and Ducks may regale themselves there.

Looking into the Almanac, I am startled. Superior Court Ipswich is the 18th. day of June. I thought it a Week later 25. So that I have only next Week to go home 150 Miles. I must improve every Moment. It is 25 miles a day if I ride every day next Week.


Silas Deane, lawyer, merchant, member of the Connecticut legislature, and subsequently a member of the Continental Congress and one of the American commissioners in Paris, with whose activities in Europe JA, as Deane's successor, was to be deeply involved.


Thus in MS. JA doubtless meant “rode” or “came.”


JA probably means that he would travel via Lancaster and Lunenburg, Mass., to “No. 4,” a settlement on the upper Connecticut River that is now Charlestown, N.H.

1771. Sunday, June 9th. JA 1771. Sunday, June 9th. Adams, John
1771. Sunday, June 9th.

Feel a little discomposed this Morning. Rested but poorly last night. Anxious about my Return—fearfull of very hot or rainy weather. I have before me an uncomfortable Journey to Casco Bay—little short of 300 miles.

Looking into a little bedroom, in this House Shaylers, I found a few Books, the musical Miscellany, Johnsons Dictionary, the farmers Letters, and the Ninth Volume of Dr. Clarks sermons.1 This last I took for my Sabbath Day Book, and read the Sermon on the Fundamentals 31of Christianity, which he says are the Doctrines concerning the Being and Providence of God, the Necessity of Repentance and Obedience to his Commands, the Certainty of a Life to come, a Resurrection from the dead and a future Judgment.

Read also another Sermon on the Reward of Justice. “There is, says the Dr., a Duty of Justice towards the Public. There is incumbent upon Men the very same Obligation, not to wrong the Community; as there is, not to violate any private Mans Right, or defraud any particular Person of his Property. The only Reason, why Men are not always sufficiently sensible of this; so that many, who are very just in their Dealings between Man and Man, will yet be very fraudulent or rapacious with Regard to the Public; is because in this latter Case, it is not so obviously and immediately apparent upon whom the Injury falls, as it is in the Case of private Wrongs. But so long as the Injury is clear and certain; the Uncertainty of the Persons upon whom the Injury falls in Particular, or the Number of the Persons among whom the damage may chance to be divided, alters not at all the Nature of the Crime itself.”

Went to Meeting in the Morning, and tumbled into the first Pew I could find—heard a pretty sensible, Yalensian, Connecticuttensian Preacher. At Meeting I first saw Dr. Eliot Rawson, an old School fellow. He invited me to dine. His House is handsome without, but neither clean nor elegant within, in furniture or any Thing else. His Wife is such another old Puritan as his Cousin, Peter Adams's Wife at Braintree.2 His Children are dirty, and ill governed. He first took me into his Physick Room, and shewed me a No. of Curiosities which he has collected in the Course of his Practice—first an odd kind of long slender Worm preserved in Spirits. He says he has had between 20 and 30 Patients with such Worms—several Yards long and some of them several Rods. He shewed me some fingers he cutt off and some Wens, and his Physick Drawers And his Machine to pound with his Pestle &c.

His dining Room is crouded with a Bed and a Cradle, &c. &c. We had a picked up Dinner. Went to Meeting with him in the Afternoon, and heard the finest Singing, that ever I heard in my Life, the front and side Galleries were crowded with Rows of Lads and Lasses, who performed all the Parts in the Utmost Perfection. I thought I was wrapped up. A Row of Women all standing up, and playing their Parts with perfect Skill and Judgment, added a Sweetness and Sprightliness to the whole which absolutely charmed me.—I saw at Meeting this Afternoon Moses Paine, who made a decent Appearance and the Dr. 32tells me lives by his Trade of a shoemaker comfortably from Day to day.

The more I see of this Town the more I admire it. I regrett extremely that I cant pursue my Tour to New Haven.

The Dr. thinks Hancock vain. Told a Story.—“I was at school with him, and then upon a level with him. My father was richer than his. But I was not long since at his Store and said to Mr. Glover whom I knew, this I think is Mr. Hancock. Mr. H. just asked my Name and nothing more—it was such a Piece of Vanity! There is not the meanest Creature that comes from your Way, but I take Notice of him—and I ought. What tho I am worth a little more than they—I am glad of it, and that I have it that I may give them some of it.” I told the Dr. that Mr. H. must have had something upon his Mind—that he was far from being Arrogant—&c.

Drank Tea with Landlady, and her Son Mr. Shaylor, in pretty, western Room. But they are not very sociable. In short, I have been most miserably destitute of Conversation here. The People here all Trade to N. York, and have very little Connection with Boston. After Tea went over to the Drs., and found him very social and very learned. We talked much about History &c. He says, that Boston lost the Trade of this Colony by the severe Laws vs. their old Tenor. But they may easily regain the Trade, for the People here are much disgusted with N. York for their Defection from the Non Importation Agreement, and for some frauds and unfair Practises in Trade. He says they have found out that N. York Merchants have wrote home to the Manufacturers in England to make their Goods narrower and of a meaner fabric that they might sell cheaper, and undersell Boston. The Dr. says that Coll. Josa. Quincy quarrells with his Workmen &c. but Norton is a clever Man, he called to see him and was much pleased, &c.

Landlady has an only Son Nat. Shaylor, and she is very fond and very proud of him. He lived with a Merchant—is now 25 or 26 and contents himself still to keep that Merchants Books without any Inclination to set up for himself. Is a great Proficient in Musick. Plays upon the Flute, Fife, Harpsicord, Spinnett &c. Associates with the Young and the Gay, and is a very fine Connecticutt young Gentleman. Oh the Misery, the Misfortune, the Ruin of being an only Son! I thank my God that I was not, and I devoutly pray, that none of mine may ever be!


Samuel Clarke (1675–1729), rector of St. James's, Westminster, a prolific writer on metaphysical and theological subjects ( DNB ).


This Peter Adams was a cousin of Deacon John Adams; his 2d wife was Elizabeth Rawson (A. N. Adams, Geneal. Hist, of Henry Adams of Braintree , p. 397)