Diary of John Quincy Adams, volume 2

27th. JQA 27th. Adams, John Quincy

The day was spent like the preceding ones. There was some company here in the afternoon.1 I give as much of the little lei-421sure time I have, as I can conveniently to some lectures upon History and general Policy a new publication of Dr. Priestley,2 whose literary powers may be truly called athletic. There are several other late performances, which I am desirous of reading, but more particularly Mr. Gibbon's continuation of his History of the decline and fall of the roman Empire: which is not however, yet completed.3


JQA adds, in his line-a-day entry, “Folks from my uncle's” (D/JQA/13, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 16).


Joseph Priestley, Lectures on History, and General Policy; To Which is Prefixed, An Essay on a Course of Liberal Education for Civil and Active Life, Birmingham, England, 1788 (MQA).


The final three volumes were published in 1788 ( DNB ).

28th. JQA 28th. Adams, John Quincy

Mrs. Welch and Betsey Smith came from Boston this morning; we all went to Weymouth and dined at Doctor Tufts's. In the afternoon I went over to Mr. Norton's house; where in my Infancy I have spent many days, which I scarcely remember even as a distant dream; but before this day I had not been in the house these nine years.1 As I returned from Weymouth I was overtaken by the rain, and stop'd at Mr. Cranch's; but it did not abate, and I went home in the midst of it.


Jacob Norton, the minister at Weymouth, was living in the parsonage previously occupied by JQA's grandfather, Rev. William Smith.

29th. JQA 29th. Adams, John Quincy

I attended at meeting and heard Mr. Wibird. The weather was rather dull and somewhat sultry. I am still undetermined whether to return this week to Newbury-Port, or wait till after Commencement: I believe however I shall determine upon the latter.

30th. JQA 30th. Adams, John Quincy

Mr. and Mrs. Shaw return'd to Haverhill this morning: and this day I finished unpacking the books; which however must continue for some time in great disorder.1


At the bottom of JQA's line-a-day entries for June in D/JQA/13, he has written a phrase in shorthand, followed, on the line below, by the date “June 17.” The inscription is JQA's earliest recorded use of John Byrom's shorthand system, antedating other shorthand specimens in his papers by twenty years, and the first of about a half-dozen examples he entered into this Diary before the end of the year. Byrom's characters here are rendered “year on the 25th August.” The significance of either date to JQA is not known to the editors. In 1794, while en route to his diplomatic post in the Netherlands, JQA mentioned having once attempted to learn shorthand, “but soon gave over the pursuit; not having a very high opinion of the utility of the art, and being very early weary of the labour to acquire it.” He briefly resumed his study of it, but abandoned it until the following decade (Thomas Molineux, An Introduction to Byrom's Universal English Short-Hand, 5th edn., London, 1821; JQA, Diary, 3 Oct. 1794).