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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0013

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-13

13th.

Mrs. Payson pass'd the afternoon here. A Daughter of Mrs. Sargeants who was a Coquettish young Widow, and married, about 9 months since; she is in some measure the arbiter of Taste { 387 } and fashion here: and makes very smart and severe Remarks, upon every one, who does not happen to dress or dance, according to her Taste.
I went down with Nancy to Mr. Duncans, and was there all the Evening; there was considerable Company: the young Squire, as empty, as a Drum, though it must be said in his favour, that he is not very talkative. Mr. Tim Osgood, who return'd yesterday from Newbury, where he went to carry Miss Knight. Mr. Duncan, said, he was an ambitious man, for that he was doing all he could to be Knighted. Miss Stevenson, endeavours to say very witty things, and has an archness of look, as who should say, is not that excellent. There is perhaps a little affectation in the matter, but it is all very excuseable, in a Lady. We must always judge of persons and things from their qualities, relative to others of the same kind. In this Country where fortunes are almost universally very small, four or five hundred £ sterling, annual income is considered as a large fortune; in Europe, it is a very trifling one. Were our young Ladies generally remarkable, for great virtues, and very few and inconsiderable faults, one might with Reason be strict, and severe; but as the matter stands, we must entirely over look small, foibles,

Be to their faults a little blind,

Be to their virtues very kind,1

for most of our damsels are like portraits in crayons, which at a distance look, well, but if you approach near them, are vile daubings. There are some indeed who like the paintings of the great masters, excite admiration more and more, the nearer, and the longer they are examined. A few such, alone can reconcile me to a sex, which I should otherwise, doubt whether to hate, despise, or pity most.
1. Matthew Prior, “An English Padlock,” [lines 78–79]; JQA has reversed the lines. A copy of Prior's Poems on Several Occasions, 2 vols. in 1, Glasgow, 1759, was owned by JQA at this time (MQA).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0014

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-14

14th.

I was up late last Night, to finish the fourth book of Horace's Odes; and found my Eyes, this morning very sore indeed, so that I could not write or read. Mr. Storer,1 Mr. Atkinson,2 and Mr. W. Smith arrived, at about 10 in the morning, and my time was { 388 } taken up, in going about with them. Visited Mr. Stoughton for the first time: Mrs. Stoughton is by no means fond of this Town. The sudden transition, from London, to so small and retired a Town as this, where she has no intimate acquaintance, must be disagreeable. Solitude, can never constitute a man's happiness, much less a woman's. I imagine they will not continue in Town long. Mr. Thaxter, Eliza, and the gentlemen, dined here; I had a thousand Questions to ask, Charles Storer, and forgot three quarters of them, not knowing which to ask first. He brought me, my watch chain, and some Letters.3
1. Charles Storer (1761–1829), distantly related to AA through his father's second marriage into the Quincy family, went to Europe in 1781 and lived with JA at The Hague in 1782 and in Paris 1782–1783 while serving as an additional secretary to the minister. Storer left the Adamses late in 1783, spending much of his time in England, but kept in contact through a series of letters to JQA during 1784–1785. He returned to America in Nov. 1785 ( Adams Family Correspondence , 4:127; Storer to AA , 17 Oct. 1782; JA to John Jay, 25 Aug. 1785, LbC ; AA2 to JQA , 24 Sept.–1 Oct. 1785, Adams Papers).
2. John Atkinson, who married Elizabeth Storer, daughter of “Deacon” Ebenezer Storer and half-sister of Charles (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates , 12:213–214; Scrapbook, MHi:Elizabeth Hall Smith Papers).
3. The letters probably included at least the following: AA2 to JQA , 26 Aug.–13 Sept. 1785; JA to JQA , 31 Aug., 9 Sept. 1785; AA to JQA , 6, 12 Sept. 1785 (Adams Papers).