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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0010-0021

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-08-21

21st.

At six in the morning, we all left Middleton: and rode on to Hartford, where we arrived at about 9. The distance is 14 miles. For several miles on this side of Middleton, we rode along by the side of the river: and after we left it, we had from the top of an hill a most elegant prospect. Indeed there are a number in this Country, which looks as prosperous, and as fertile, as any I remember ever to have been through. We had some thoughts of stopping at Weathersfield, which is 3 miles from Hartford; and going to meeting there: this State is very famous for psalm singing, and Weathersfield is peculiarly distinguish'd: but we thought best upon the whole to go forward directly to Hartford. I was much fatigued when I arrived, and took a nap; after which I went and visited Coll. Wadsworth, who arrived in town last evening. We dined at our tavern, and after dinner, went to the meeting. Mr. Chaumont was struck with, the singing: he is a connoisseur in music, and was surprised to find so much harmony here. After Meeting I went and delivered a letter from my father to Mr. Trumbull,1 the author of McFingal, who formerly studied law with him. I sat about 2 hours with him, and had some conversation with him, mostly upon the french poets, in which he is well versed. He is not very partial to Voltaire, and in that I agree perfectly in opinion with him. We afterwards went and Drank tea with Coll. Wadsworth, who lives in a very elegant manner: { 310 } he made a very large fortune, by being agent for the french army, with Mr. Carter, or rather Church:2 he has two fine daughters. Harriot, is not handsome, but very genteel. Betsey is only 11. years old, but promises to be a Beauty. After tea, we went and took a walk round the town, and on the banks of the river which is about 15 feet deep here but there is a bar at some distance from this place, which prevents large vessels from coming up to the town except in the spring when the river overflows. This is considered as the capital of the State, though New-Haven, has some pretensions to that title, and in a commercial view is better situated. We spent the Evening at Coll. Wadsworth's.
1. Dated 28 April ( LbC , Adams Papers). John Trumbull, the Connecticut poet and lawyer, had studied with JA in 1773–1774. He published the first part of his widely popular poem McFingal in 1775. Consisting of four cantos in Hudibrastic verse, it described the blunders of British leaders during the Revolution (Victor E. Gimmestad, John Trumbull, N.Y., 1974).
2. John Barker Church, an Englishman who came to America under the assumed name of John Carter, was Wadworth's business partner during the war (P. H. Woodward, One Hundred Years of the Hartford Bank, Now the Hartford National Bank of Hartford, Conn., Hartford, 1892, p. 32–33).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0010-0022

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-08-22

22d.

At about 9 this morning, Mr. Broome, and Mr. Brush, left us and set out to return to New-Haven. Breakfasted with Coll. Wadsworth, who afterwards went with us three or four miles out of town, to shew us his farm. We saw there a couple of the largest oxen I ever beheld; and a number more uncommonly stout. This place is celebrated over the Continent for producing exceeding fine oxen, and it furnishes the New York and Boston markets with great quantities of Beef. The Coll. shew us his fields of grain and of grass, and his orchards. We return'd a little before noon: and left the Coll. for a short time. I went into a bookseller's shop, and there found a new publication, called the Conquest of Canaan, an american epic Poem, in eleven books, by Mr. T. Dwight. It is but lately that it was printed, and I have heard a very high Character of it, which induced me, to purchase it.1 Mr. Wadsworth was so kind as to give me a copy of McFingal,2 and these are the two pieces in which americans have endeavour'd most to soar as high, as European bards. McFingal is generally agreed to be equal, if not superior to Hudibras. Of the serious poem, no criticism has appeared; owing I suppose, to its being so lately publish'd.
{ 311 }
I met just before dinner with my old fellow scholar, Deane, who came from Weathersfield this morning. I was told he was in New London: had I known he was at Weathersfield, I should have stop'd there, on purpose to see him. For there is nothing I think more shameful, than to forget our old acquaintance. We all dined with Coll. Wadsworth, and at about 4 Mr. Chaumont, and myself, left them, and set away from the inn, about half an hour, afterwards. We rode only 16 miles this afternoon, to Captain Cox's tavern and it was after 9 in the evening when we got there. We could travel, but slowly, as the weather though cloudy, was very warm, and the horses were somewhat galled.
1. JQA 's copy, Hartford, 1785, is at MQA. Timothy Dwight was minister at Greenfield Hill, Conn., at this time and was president of Yale from 1795 to 1817. The Conquest of Canäan, Dwight's first important literary production, is filled with allusions to contemporary persons and events (Dexter, Yale Graduates, 3:321–333).
2. JQA 's copy has not been found.