A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
close
-
The Adams Papers Digital Edition is undergoing active maintenance while we work on improvements to the system. You may experience slow performance or the inability to access content. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We will endeavor to return to full capabilities as soon as possible.

Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 3


This foot note contained in document ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0002
4. Fragments of the text now worn away in the two preceding sentences have been restored from the text of JA 's narrative of his entrance to Harvard contributed by CFA2 to MHS, MHS, Procs. , 2d ser., 14 (1900–1901):200–201.
Some fragmentary notes taken down by Harriet Welsh from JA 's conversations in 1823 slightly amplify JA 's recollections of his school days. (The Welsh notes survive chiefly in the form of a copy by CFA in his literary miscellany, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 327. Suspension points in the passages quoted below indicate omissions by the present editors.)
JA loquitur.... I was about nine or ten years old at that time and soon learn'd the use of the gun and became strong enough to lift it. I used to take it to school and leave it in the entry and the moment it was over went into the field to kill crows and squirrels and I tried to see how many I could kill: at last Mr. Cleverly found this out and gave me a most dreadful scolding and after that I left the gun at an old woman's in the neighborhood. I soon became large enough to go on the marshes to kill wild fowl and to swim and used to beg so hard of my father and mother to let me go that they at last consented and many a cold boisterous day have I pass'd on the beach without food waiting for wild fowl to go over—often lying in wait for them on the cold ground—to hide myself from them. I cared not what I did if I could but get away from school, and confess to my shame that I sometimes play'd truant. At last I got to be thirteen years of age and my life had been wasted. I told my father if I must go to College I must have some other master for I detested the one I had and should not be fitted ever if I staid with him but if he would put me to Mr. Marsh's school I would endeavor to get my lessons and make every exertion to go. He said I knew it was an invariable rule with Mr. M. not to take any boys belonging to the town—he only took eight or ten to live with him. However I said so much to him that he said he would try, and after a great deal of persuasion Master Marsh consented. The next day after he did so I took my books and went to him. I fulfill'd my promise and work'd diligently and in eighteen months was fitted for college. He lived where Hardwicke now keeps a shop opposite to where the Cleverlys live.... Mr. Marsh was a good instructor and a man of learning. The house I learn'd my letters in was opposite my father's nearly and I have pulled it down within this twenty years.”