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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0007-0007

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-07-07

7th.

Mrs. Cranch and Miss Betsey return'd from Boston this evening.
A ballad, founded on fact.1

Now ponder well, ye students sad,

The words which I shall write,

The people of the town are mad,

And ready for the fight.

{ 251 }

T'was once upon a sabbath day

A day, which you shall rue

That parson H——d2 could not pray

And laid the fault to you,

And when with melody of heart,

The people rose to sing

A noise was heard from every part,

Which made the Church to ring.

And, what can scarcely be believ'd

Though I the truth attest

E'en Foxcroft's3 voice was scarce perceiv'd

Discordant with the rest.

No wonder then his pious rage

Burst forth into a flame,

He vow'd an holy war to wage,

And Winthrop4 did the same.

Thus by the hand of mighty power

Which good from evil draws,

Men who were ne'er devout before

Espouse religion's cause.

“A seperation must ensue,

Cries Winthrop all on fire,

Or I will surely quit my pew,

And from the church retire

“What satisfaction can I reap

From either pray'r or sermon

If I am thus bereft of sleep,

By this audacious vermin.”

“My voice, no longer will I raise”

The worthy Foxcroft said

“The lord, no longer will I praise,

If such a noise be made

“No more the accents of my tongue,

Shall you, with rapture hear

No more the harmony of song

Shall please the ravish'd ear.”

{ 252 }

“Oh spare, (cried Winthrop,) spare that threat

For should it once, be known,

They soon would make a noise as great

Or greater than your own.

“Refer the matter to the laws

And I can surely find,

A Witness in the pious cause

Just suited to my mind

“On any two that we shall name,

The punishment must fall,

To save religion's injur'd fame

Let them atone for all.”

Yet after all, our pious friends,

The people of the town,

Found they could not obtain their ends

And laid the matter down.

A mountain once, as I am told,

The pangs of child-birth felt,

Her moanings frighten'd young and old

Who near the borders dwelt.

Full long the mountain had remain'd

In this distressful plight,

And when her pains were at an end,

A mouse was brought to light.

1. Presumably this was written by JQA and is the piece to which he refers in his entry for 24 Jan. 1788 (below).
2. Rev. Timothy Hilliard, minister of the First Church in Cambridge.
3. John Foxcroft, a justice of the peace and county registrar of deeds, whose suspected sympathy for the British lost him his positions. Foxcroft continued to live in Cambridge a life of “luxurious idleness,'' and students remembered his loud voice while singing hymns and psalms in services at Hilliard's church (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 14:268–270).
4. James Winthrop, the college librarian. On student antipathy toward Winthrop, see his sketch in the Descriptive List of Illustrations, James Winthrop, Harvard College Librarian 7No. 32.
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/