Diary of John Quincy Adams, volume 1

17th. JQA 17th. Adams, John Quincy

An extreme cold day. I regretted much, not having my thermometer with me, to see the Proportion, between the severity of the weather in St. Petersburg, and here. My Brother Charles, and Cousin Cranch, arrived here in the forenoon. They came yesterday from Braintree, as far as Andover. My Brother's coming, was the more agreeable, for being in some measure unexpected. We pass'd the Evening at Mr. White's. Eliza, went to the Assembly: the first this Season, because, it has been delay'd for some time, by the misfortune in Mr. Duncan's family. There has been a great complaining, among the old-womanish People in town, on this Subject: Superstition of some kind will prevail with mankind every where. Mr. Smith the minister of the Baptist Society in this Town, is violently opposed to dancing. It is in his mind, of itself an heinous sin. He has preached a Sermon himself, and hands about among his Parishioners, a printed one, inculcating this Principle, and there are many People, here, so warped in Prejudice, that they are really perswaded, they should incur the divine displeasure, as much by dancing, as by stealing, or perhaps, committing murder. Besides this there are many who, do not participate of the diversion, and are envious to see others amusing themselves. Their pretended reasons for disapproving an assembly are, that it is an idle expence, which many of the subscribers cannot afford; that it renders them unfit for business the next day, or that it makes them keep bad hours. This is nothing more, than meddling, in the affairs of other People, which mankind in general are too prone to. Some sillier than all the rest find fault, with the time of day, that is chosen, and an old woman, wisely told Mr. Shaw, that It was a dark purpose, and therefore they took a dark time. How one of 390the most innocent, and rational amusements, that was ever invented, can find, so many opposers is somewhat mysterious. But the mind of man is too often dispossed, to strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. However, the Subscribers wisely take no notice, of all these things, but go on, their own way, and despise all these senseless clamours.

18th. JQA 18th. Adams, John Quincy

The severest day we have had this Season. Did not stir out of the house, all day. Nancy, perceiving, that the cold had very much abated went out, and dined: but when she return'd again in the Evening, discovered, that the Cold, had been rather increasing continually than otherwise. I could not write in the Evening, which was past in conversation with my Cousin and Brother.

19th. JQA 19th. Adams, John Quincy

The Cold has not been so violent this day, as the two former. Mr. and Mrs. Shaw, Miss Nancy and myself dined at Mr. N: Bradley's. This family is said to be remarkable for oddity. I was told I should have the greatest difficulty to keep my Countenance. There was indeed something singular in all of them, but nothing, that I thought very extraordinary. Every Nation has certain Customs peculiar to itself, and is not ridiculed for it. I do not see, why, every little singularity in a family should be laughed at.

I went after dinner to see Mr. Thaxter, at his office, and staid with him till 8 in the Evening, and pass'd my time very agreeably, as I always do, when with him alone. Mr. Harrod1 was there, an hour or two: the first time I have ever been in Company with him. Studied the Epodes, in the Night; I do not admire them so much as the rest of their author's works. It would be much for his Reputation, I think, if some of them, were destroy'd, or left out of the Collections of his writings.

Much less can that obtain a place, At which a virgin hides her face.2

No fame, can justify, such gross indecency as some of these Poems exhibit, and which if they came from any one else, would be called infamous. An officer who should behave, as a dastard, 391would not escape being broke, because upon former occasions, he had given proofs of great intrepidity.


Joseph Harrod (ca. 1748–1828), whose daughter Ann married TBA in 1805.


Abraham Cowley, “Ode. Of Wit,” lines [45–46] (Works, 11th edn., 3 vols., London, 1710–1711, 1:4, at MQA).