1. This approximate and indefinite date is the best that can be assigned to the long series of wholly undated entries that begin JA’s Diary booklet “No. 3.” This “paper book” (our D/JA/3) is made up of loose leaves and small gatherings, some originally stitched together with thread and some apparently not. Since such stitching as there once was has now largely worn away, and since in composing his Diary JA sometimes left blank pages, or portions of pages, that he filled in later, it is now impossible to determine the original order of some of the entries. It may only be said that the earliest ones in this booklet were legal notes, set down before JA had filled up the preceding “paper book” (D/JA/2) early in April 1759; these are now embedded among diary entries that extend into the summer of 1759 and possibly later. The MS
contains entries in small blank spaces in the margins, others written upside down on pages bearing other matter, some entries begun but never finished by the diarist, and still others that he may have completed on pages now lost from the MS
. Only one entry was fully dated by JA, that of 29 June 1759
, about halfway through D/JA/3.
Most of the entries were written in a hasty, slipshod way, and some whole pages are badly worn and faded, necessitating at times a reconstruction of the text that is not wholly satisfactory to the editors. It is perhaps for these reasons that large portions of D/JA/3 were omitted in the early transcripts made for JQA and corrected by CFA. Moreover, in his edition of JA’s Diary CFA omitted all but a few selections from this booklet. These selections give only a hint or two of JA’s protracted affair with Hannah Quincy and no hint at all of JA’s first impressions of Miss Abigail Smith of Weymouth, who five years later became his wife.
After careful study the editors have decided that they have no good choice but to print all the entries in their present physical order in the MS
, scrambled though they may be, simply grouping them under the assigned dates of Spring 1759 and Summer 1759 according to whether they precede or follow the single dated entry of 29 June.