A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
close

Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0009-0019

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-09-19

19th.

The equinoctial storm, which has been gathering in the heavens for a week past, has now appeared, with all its violence and rage. Stedman arrived in town last evening, and has attended in the office this day. He brought me no letters from Cambridge, but left all friends well: we had a violent debate in the office, between Stedman and Townsend upon a point of law. The contest began by a difference of opinion between Townsend and me. Stedman was on my side of the question, and the dispute soon center'd in them; books were produced and authorities brought which both parties declared to be plump1 in their favour respectively.
Townsend at last finding three against him, (for Thomson had sided likewise) got out of patience, and hinted to us, that we could not understand the meaning of the terms, as we had been so short a time in the office: so we left him to battle it with Stedman. An appeal was agreed upon to Mr. Parsons: Townsend however after shifting his ground several times, at length discovered that there was nothing in the case but a misunderstand• { 292 } ing of words; and appears at present to give up the point. But he is fond of these debates, and fonder of his own opinion. Thomson did not appear in the afternoon: this however was quite peaceable: The weather was such as rendered a fire in the office, very comfortable. I was at home all the evening, reading Rousseau's confessions.2 This is the most extraordinary book I ever read in my life.
1. Without qualification or uncertainty ( OED ).
2. The Geneva, 1782, edition in two volumes is at MQA.

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0009-0020

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-09-20

20th.

I expected this morning when I waked up, to hear the winds whistle and the tempests roar: but all was still and calm: the storm was violent but short. We were pretty still this day at the office; but four at a time, is certainly too many. Some one or other of us, is talking almost all the time, and consequently, reading does not proceed rapidly.
Little came and pass'd half an hour with me in the evening: but was engaged for the remainder of it.
I copied some extracts, and wrote a letter.1
1. Not found.

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0009-0021

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-09-21

21st.

Quite still in the office this day. I read a good deal.
This afternoon Amory1 arrived; and thus we are all five here.
I called at Mr. Carter's and desired him to take charge of a letter to W. Cranch.2
I pass'd an hour or two with Mr. Tufts.
A very beautiful evening.
1. William Amory, who briefly practiced law in Boston and Salem after leaving Parsons' office the following spring ( Fleet's Pocket Almanack and Massachusetts Register , 1789, 1791).
2. Not found.

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0009-0022

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-09-22

22d.

This forenoon I finish'd Vattel. The third book treats of War, and the fourth of Peace; much in the same manner as he treats the other parts of his subject. “Honesty is the best policy,” says nature; and so says Vattel.
{ 293 }
Mr. Parsons returned from Exeter before dinner. I intended to have gone to Haverhill this afternoon, to spend the Sunday there: but the weather was such as threatened a storm; and I gave up my plan. I went up with Townsend, Stedman, Amory and Stacey1 to Sohier's tavern about three miles out of town, where we had some fine melons. We return'd in the dark: I pass'd the evening, and supp'd with Townsend.
1. George Stacey was apparently also studying law in Newburyport, perhaps with Theophilus Bradbury. Stacey practiced briefly in Biddeford, Maine (MH-Ar; George Folsom, History of Saco and Biddeford, . . . Maine..., Saco, 1830, p. 302).