Diary of John Quincy Adams, volume 2

3d. JQA 3d. Adams, John Quincy

The weather continues extreme cold. The river is fast as low as this Town, and many persons have this day cross'd it upon the ice. Townsend set out to go with me this evening to Mrs. Emery's; but would not go in when he found there was company there. It was Judge Greenleaf s family. We play'd at cards and backgammon as usual; and between ten and eleven, I came home. Miss Prince, is not handsome, but sociable: she is generally called sensible and very agreeable; but I have imbibed an unaccountable prejudice unfavourable to her, from the appearance of her person and manners: perhaps I ought not to commit such a weakness to writing; but indeed it is a weakness from which I believe very few persons can boast of being free. Miss Derby is handsome: but her beauty is stern and forbidding: she is reserved and unsociable: her manners are not wholly exempt from the appearance of pride. But the effects of this passion, and of modest diffidence, so different from it, are similar in appearance, and when the causes of conduct, may be various the most 371favourable construction is always the best. The Miss Greenleaf's ——.1


Thus in MS.

4th. JQA 4th. Adams, John Quincy

Doctor Kilham, went to Boston this day to attend the general court. His opposition to the federal constitution, has made him so unpopular in this town, that I do not expect he will be chosen as representative at the next election, and he may I think with this Session, take his leave of the legislative body for the present. I passd the evening with Townsend and Thompson at Mrs. Atkins's. The justice was not at home: between 7 and 8 o'clock, we were alarm'd by the cry of fire; but it was extinguished, before we got to the house.

While the Doctor is absent, I shall read more than I can when he is here: The intervals between the hours which I pass at the office, I usually spend in conversation with him; when he is gone I devote them to reading. I have taken up the second volume of Gibbon, which I have for a long time laid aside; and I am determined to try again to get through this book. I have possessed it several years, and have been all the time just about to read it, but it has been like the hinge of Tristram Shandy's door. Never done, because it could be done at any time.

5th. JQA 5th. Adams, John Quincy

I pass'd the evening with Thompson and Putnam at Mr. Bradbury's. Frank came from Boston this morning, and bro't an account of the interment of his Honor Thomas Cushing Esqr. who died last week. He has been lieutenant governor of this Commonwealth, ever since the establishment of the Constitution; and it is probable, there will be a vast deal of electioneering intrigue, for the diverse candidates for the place.

The paper also contains an extract from the concluding Letter of the third volume in defence of the american Constitutions, which speaks very favourably of the System proposed by the federal Convention... I did not expect it, and am glad to find I was mistaken, since, it appears probable, the plan will be adopted....1 We play'd cards an hour or two and then amused 372ourselves with music. There were several young Ladies present, Miss Harriet's companions; a sett that are almost always together, and who have at least more personal beauty, than any equal number of other unmarried Ladies in this town.

Miss Wigglesworth,2 is about 17. Her stature is rather diminutive; but smallness is said to be one of the essential requisites of prettiness; Her features are regular, and her shape admirably proportioned. Her disposition is said to be amiable; but she talks very little. The greatest defect which I have observed in her is a frequent smile, which is certainly either unmeaning, or insulting. The only method I can pursue, when I catch her eye is to smile too; and by this means put her out of countenance. Thus much for the present; I will take some other opportunity to mention the other stars that form this constellation.


JQA's ellipses here and above. Written by JA to WSS on 26 Dec. 1787, the letter appeared in the Massachusetts Centinel printed on this date (JA, A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, 3 vols., London,1787–1788,3:502–506).


Probably Sarah Wigglesworth, the daughter of Col. Edward Wigglesworth of Newbury port (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates , 15:129–133).