Diary of John Quincy Adams, volume 2

20th. JQA 20th. Adams, John Quincy

I pass'd the forenoon at home in writing. In the afternoon, I attended meeting and heard Mr. Wibird. After meeting, I went down to view the house, which they are repairing for my father:1 I was not perfectly pleased with it; but it now appears in a very unfavourable light: they are obliged to make the most necessary repairs very hastily expecting my father in a few weeks. I am in hopes, that after my parents return; this place will be more lively and agreeable to me than it is at present. I think I shall never make it the standing place of my residence: but I shall wish to pass much of my time here, and hope the change may be for the better.


The Vassall-Borland place was an abandoned loyalist estate in Braintree. Several individuals occupied the house during the Revolution and afterward, until it was finally purchased for JA in Sept. 1787 through the agency of Drs. Cot-394ton Tufts and Thomas Welsh. Long known as the Old House, four generations of Adamses lived in it until 1927. In 1946 it was deeded to the federal government and became the Adams National Historic Site. For additional details, consult the notes in Adams Family Correspondence , 3:264–266, and JA, Diary and Autobiography , 3:217; the Old House is illustrated in JA, Diary and Autobiography , 4:facing 195.

21st. JQA 21st. Adams, John Quincy

We were again confined all day to the house, by the badness of the weather. Mr. Cranch however went to Boston. I find, as I always have found, great inconveniences in writing here, and indeed, there are no small inconveniences in thinking; I wrote however a little, and read a few pages in Gilbert's treatise of Evidence,1 it being a Law book. W. Cranch is reading Bacon;2 but makes no great progress in it at Braintree. It is a book which many instructors recommend to be read through in course; but Mr. Parsons says it is calculated, only to make matter of Fact lawyers; men, who without knowing the true principles upon which the Science is grounded, or the reasoning by which it is supported; will be confined in their knowlege to ita lex scripta est, and will be incapable of applying the principles to new cases, or to circumstances different from such as have already taken place.


Geoffrey Gilbert, The Law of Evidence..., London, 1717, and later revised and corrected editions.


Matthew Bacon, A New Abridgment of the Law..., 5 vols., London, 1736–1766.

22d. JQA 22d. Adams, John Quincy

I took a ride in the forenoon with W. Cranch. Mr. Cranch came home from Boston, and brought young Waters with him. Mr. Weld, with his wife and her Sister pass'd the afternoon here; and when I return'd from my father's Library, where I went to take a list of his Law-Books; I found Mr. Norton here: he has some thoughts of going to Menotomy to-morrow, to Mr. Fiske's ordination; and made this a stage on his way. He is paying his addresses to Miss Betsey Cranch, and will, I suppose marry her, unless some particular accident should intervene. He was ordained last fall, at Weymouth, in the parish where, my grandfather Smith was settled; and he is said to be a young man of good sense, and a good disposition.