Diary of John Quincy Adams, volume 2

5th. JQA 5th. Adams, John Quincy

We were up at four in the morning; but were so long in preparing our things that we did not set out till the Clock had struck 75six, and before we started from the banks of the river on the Bradford side the clock had struck seven. Mr. C. Blodget was going to Boston on horseback, and we rode together as far as Mystic. He was in the army, almost all the late war, and told a number of anecdotes, which he was witness to in the course of it. I dined at Captain Brooks's in Mystic. Stopp'd about half an hour at Cambridge, and got to Mr. Cranch's at Braintree at about half after eight in the evening, as much fatigued as I ever was in my life.

6th. JQA 6th. Adams, John Quincy

I felt so stiff all day that I did not go to meeting. I was unfit for almost every thing, and only read a few pages in the course of the day.

7th. JQA 7th. Adams, John Quincy

I could not sleep last night. Lay restless till about 3 in the morning. Then got up, and read one of Bishop Berkeley's Dialogues against matter,1 a curious System, and rather a new one to me. At day light I went again to bed, and slept till eleven o'clock. In the afternoon I went down to see my Grand-mamma, but she was not at home.


Presumably George Berkeley, Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous..., London, 1713.

8th. JQA 8th. Adams, John Quincy

Read through the remainder of the Dialogues, which Reid says, “prove by unanswerable arguments, what no man in his Senses can believe.”1 There are however, great objections to the System which are not mentioned. This work appears to me, to confound the cause with its effect for ever. Thus if I burn my fingers, they say, the fire by which I burnt them is in my mind, because, the Sensation which it produced is there. Reasoning in the same manner might I not conclude, that there is a Bottle in this wine glass, because the wine that is in it was poured from a bottle? Every one readily agrees that the Sensations, which heat or cold, hardness or softness, solidity, extension, motion &c, raise in his mind, are not in the inanimate matter, which causes them but they are causes which produce those effects in our 76mind. But says Bishop Berkeley, no being, can communicate that which it hath not, which is as much as saying that a hone, cannot whet a razor, because, it is not sharp itself: in short if the ideal System be true, either every animal in creation has an immortal Soul, or else, man must have two; for I take it a horse, and a dog, have as clear ideas of heat and cold, and even of a tree or a river as man. The conclusion is evident, and for my Part, if ever I doubt of the existence of matter, I will likewise doubt of my own existence, and of that of every thing else, nor do I see, how one can be given up with out the other.

I went down in the afternoon, and drank tea at my uncle Quincy's. Charles Went to Cambridge yesterday to move our things, and returned this afternoon. Mrs. Apthorp and her Daughters spent the afternoon at Mr. Cranch's.


Thomas Reid, An Inquiry into the Human Mind, p. 21–22.