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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 3


Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0005-0004-0003

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1786-07-08

London July 8. Saturday.

In one of my common Walks, along the Edgeware Road, there are fine Meadows, or Squares of grass Land belonging to a noted Cow keeper. These Plotts are plentifully manured. There are on the Side of the Way, several heaps of Manure, an hundred Loads perhaps in each heap. I have carefully examined them and find them composed of Straw, and dung from the Stables and Streets of London, mud, Clay, or Marl, dug out of the Ditch, along the Hedge, and Turf, Sward cutt up, with Spades, hoes, and shovels in the Road. This is laid in vast heaps to mix. With narrow hoes they cutt it down at each End, and { 194 } with shovels throw it into a new heap, in order to divide it and mix it more effectually. I have attended to the Operation, as I walked, for some time. This may be good manure, but is not equal to mine, which I composed in similar heaps upon my own Farm, of Horse Dung from Bracketts stable in Boston, Marsh Mud from the sea shore and Street Dust, from the Plain at the Foot of Pens hill, in which is a Mixture of Marl.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0005-0004-0004

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1786-07-16

London July 16, 1786. Sunday.

At Hackney, heard a Nephew of Dr. Price, who is settled at Yarmouth.
It may be of Use to minute miscellaneous Thoughts like Selden, Swift &c.
It is an Observation of one of the profoundest Inquirers into human Affairs, that a Revolution of Government, successfully conducted and compleated, is the strongest Proof, that can be given, by a People of their Virtue and good Sense. An Interprize of so much difficulty can never be planned and carried on without Abilities, and a People without Principle cannot have confidence enough in each other.
Mr. Langbourne of Virginia, who dined with Us on Fryday at Col. Smiths, dined here Yesterday. This Gentleman who is rich, has taken the Whim of walking all over Europe, after having walked over most of America. His Observations are sensible and judicious. He walks forty five or fifty miles a day. He says he has seen nothing superiour to the Country from N. York to Boston. He is in Love with N. England, admires the Country and its Inhabitants. He kept Company with the King of Frances Retinue, in his late Journey to Cherbourg. He says the Virginians have learned much in Agriculture as well as in Humanity to their Slaves, in the late War.1
1. William Langborn (d. 1814), of King William co., Va., who had served as aide-de-camp to Lafayette in America and was in 1783 breveted lieutenant colonel. According to family tradition he wandered for many years on his walking tours. He had just arrived in England from France, where on 15 June Jefferson had issued him a passport. See Heitman, Register Continental Army ; Jefferson, Papers, ed. Boyd, 5:637–638; 9:643–644; WMQ , 1st ser., 4:184 (Jan. 1896); 11:257–260 (April 1903); also entry of 21 July and note, below.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0005-0004-0005

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1786-07-20

London July 20. Thursday.

“Every Act of Authority, of one Man over another for which there is not an absolute Necessity, is tyrannical.”
“Le Pene che oltre passano la necessita di conservare il deposito della Salute pubblica, sono ingiuste di lor natura.” Beccaria.1
{ 195 }
The Sovereign Power is constituted, to defend Individuals against the Tyranny of others. Crimes are acts of Tyranny of one or more on another or more. A Murderer, a Thief, a Robber, a Burglar, is a Tyrant.
Perjury, Slander, are tyranny too, when they hurt any one.
1. “All punishments that go beyond the requirements of public safety are by their very nature unjust” —Beccaria, Deidelitti e delle pene, ch. 2. JA is quoting from his own copy of the Italian text (new edn., Haarlem and Paris, 1780, p. 10), which he had acquired in July 1780. This passage is near the end of ch. 2. The quotation in English in the preceding paragraph of this entry is also from Beccaria, ch. 2 (near the beginning of that chapter), but is taken from JA 's copy of the English translation (An Essay on Crimes and Punishments, London, 1775, p. 7). This shows that JA used the original and the translation together, but the new Italian edition of 1780 varies markedly in its text from the version on which the earlier translation was based. Both volumes are among JA 's books in the Boston Public Library; JA presented the English translation to his son TBA in 1800.