. Fragments of the text now worn away in the two preceding sentences have been restored
from the text of JA
's narrative of his entrance to Harvard contributed by CFA2
to MHS, MHS, Procs.
, 2d ser., 14 (1900–1901):200–201.
Some fragmentary notes taken down by Harriet Welsh from JA
's conversations in 1823 slightly amplify JA
's recollections of his school days. (The Welsh notes survive chiefly in the form
of a copy by CFA
in his literary miscellany, Adams Papers, Microfilms
, Reel No. 327. Suspension points in the passages quoted below indicate omissions
by the present editors.)
loquitur.... I was about nine or ten years old at that time and soon learn'd the
use of the gun and became strong enough to lift it. I used to take it to school and
leave it in the entry and the moment it was over went into the field to kill crows
and squirrels and I tried to see how many I could kill: at last Mr. Cleverly found
this out and gave me a most dreadful scolding and after that I left the gun at an
old woman's in the neighborhood. I soon became large enough to go on the marshes to
kill wild fowl and to swim and used to beg so hard of my father and mother to let
me go that they at last consented and many a cold boisterous day have I pass'd on
the beach without food waiting for wild fowl to go over—often lying
in wait for them on the cold ground—to hide myself from them. I cared not what I
did if I could but get away from school, and confess to my shame that I sometimes
play'd truant. At last I got to be thirteen years of age and my life had been wasted.
I told my father if I must go to College I must have some other master for I detested
the one I had and should not be fitted ever if I staid with him but if he would put
me to Mr. Marsh's school I would endeavor to get my lessons and make every exertion
to go. He said I knew it was an invariable rule with Mr. M. not to take any boys belonging
to the town—he only took eight or ten to live with him. However I said so much to
him that he said he would try, and after a great deal of persuasion Master Marsh consented.
The next day after he did so I took my books and went to him. I fulfill'd my promise
and work'd diligently and in eighteen months was fitted for college. He lived where
Hardwicke now keeps a shop opposite to where the Cleverlys live.... Mr. Marsh was
a good instructor and a man of learning. The house I learn'd my letters in was opposite
my father's nearly and I have pulled it down within this twenty years.”
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, 2015.