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

Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0005-0002-0016

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1760-06-19

Thurdsday June 19.

I have been the longer in the Arg[umen]t of this Cause not for the Importance of the Cause itself, for in itself it is infinitely little and contemptible, but for the Importance of its Consequences.1 These dirty and ridiculous Litigations have been multiplied in this Town, { 137 } till the very Earth groans and the stones cry out. The Town is become infamous for them throughout the County. I have absolutely heard it used as a Proverb in several Parts of the Province, “as litigious as Braintree.” And this Multiplicity is owing to the Multiplicity of Petty foggers among whom Captn. Hollis is one, who has given out that he is a sworn Attorney till 9/10 of this Town really believe it. But I take this Opportunity, publickly to confront him, and undeceive the Town. He knows in his Conscience that he never took the Oath of an Attorney, and that he dare not assume the Impudence to ask to be admitted. He knows that the Notion of his being a sworn Attorney is an Imposture, is an Imposition upon this Town. And I take this opportunity publickly to declare that I will take all legal Advantages, against every Action brought by him or by Captn. Thayer or by any other Petty fogger in this Town. For I am determined if I live in this Town to break up this scene of strife, Vexation and Immorality. (Such suits as this and most others that ever I have seen before a Justice in this Town, have a Tendency to vex and imbitter the Minds of the People, to propagate an idle, brawling, wrangling Temper, in short such suits are an Inlet to all manner of Evils.)
And some [i.e. one] of these suit managers, when I first came to this Town, hearing that I had been thro a regular Course of study with a regular Practitioner, and that I was recommended to the Court in Boston, by one of the greatest Lawyers in America, concluded, that I should be enabled by these Advantages, and prompted by my own Interest if by no higher Motive, to put an End to the illegal Course of dirty, quacking Practice in this Town, which he had been in, and thereby enslaved the Minds and Bodyes and Estates of his Neighbours. And to prevent this he set himself to work to destroy my Reputation and prevent my getting Business, by such stratagems as no honest Mind can think of without Horror, such stratagems as I always will resent, and never will forgive till he has made Attonement by his future Repentance and Reformation. I thank God his Malice has been defeated, he has not been able to enslave me, nor to drive me out of Town, but Peoples Eyes begin to open, and I hope they will open wider and wider till they can see like other Towns. Happy shall I be if I can rescue the Souls and Bodies, and Estates of this Town from that Thraldom and slavery, to which these Petty foggers have contributed to depress them; and if I can revive in them a generous Love of Liberty and sense of Honour.—After this long Digression your Honour will let me return to this Cause, and I rely upon it, it is a vexatious one. I rely upon it that many of these Articles were borrowed and not bought, { 138 } and that therefore this Action cant be maintained for them. I rely upon it, that the Affair of the Hat is a litigious Thing, that it was a mere piece of Tavern Amuzement, and if there was any Thing like Bargain and sale in it, the Bargain was completed, the Hat delivered and the Money paid, and with regard to the other Articles, we have filed an Account that more than ballances them, and therefore I pray your Honours Judgment for Costs.
1. This entry is obviously a draft of JA’s argument, or the closing portion thereof, in the case of Lt. White and the hat. In the very next entry JA redrafted his argument in order to avoid so egotistical a tone.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0005-0002-0017

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1760-06-20

Friday June 20th.

I must not say so much about my self, nor so much about Hollis and Thayer by Name. I may declaim against Strife, and a litigious Spirit, and about the dirty Dablers in the Law.
I have a very good Regard for Lt. White, but he must allow me to have a much greater Veneration for the Law. To see the Forms and Processes of Law and Justice thus prostituted, (I must say prostituted) to revenge an imaginary Indignity, offered in a Tavern over a Chereful Bowl or enlivening Mug. To have a mere Piece of Jocular Amuzement, thus hitched into an Action at Law, a mere frolick converted into a Law suit, is a Degree of meanness that deserves no Mercy and shall have none from me. I don’t think Lt. White considered the Nature and the Consequences of this Action, before he brought it. If he had he never would have brot it. He has too much Honour to have brot it. But I suppose the Case was this. Lt. White was a little chagrined, that my Client had for once outwitted him, and in a Miff, or a Bravado, I say a Miff or a Bravado, sees Hollis and asks his Opinion. And Hollis glad of an opportunity to draw a Writ, instantly encourages the suit, and the suit was brot. And when once brot, it was too late to repent. But I dare say he has been severely sorry, that he ever brot it, and will have still further Occasion to be sorry before it Ends.
As to the Hat, Either it was a Bargain and Sale or it was not. If it was a Bargain and sale, The Hat is my Clients and the Price agreed upon, which was the Copper, delivered at the very Time, is Lt. Whites. But if it was not a Contract, but only a frolick and no one in Earnest, as I suppose it was, then the Property of the Hat continues in Lt. White, and he is welcome to take it, returning us our Copper.
Rode to Germantown in the morning. Cranch says that the Grindstone is found in the Coal Mines in Europe. The Coal lies in Apart• { 139 } ments, strongly fortified with Partitions of this stone, and this stone forms the Covering over Head, &c. I took Notice of the Rock Weed, they were burning into Kelp and I find there are a great Variety of Species of it. Some of it grows out of the Rock, a small stalk, which soon spreads into several Brainches, and each of those Branches into several others, with those little Bubbles or Bladders, full of Air, scattered along at little Distances, on every Branch and Sprig, but at the End of Each twigg or Sprig, hangs a large Pod, full of seed incased in a spongy substance. We went down to some large stones, which had been thrown over between high Water and low water mark 2 or 3 Years ago. These stones are all grown over with the Rock Weed. The seed, We suppose is deposited by the Water upon the Rock, takes Root and grows. It grows very fast to the Rock and when you pull, you will sometimes break the stalk, sometimes pull off a flake of the Rock with it, and sometimes take the Weed, as it seems to me, fairly up by the roots, and the Roots are little fine Spiculae, finer than the Point of the finest Needle. These Roots insert themselves into the Pores of the Rock and thence draw Nourishment. And the connoiseurs say, that some Rocks will produce Weeds, large and rank and strong, while others, laid in the same Place at the same time, will produce only a meagre, short, lingering one. They seem to take a deeper and stronger Root, in Timber and Planks, as on the sides of Wharfes, than they do in Rocks. The salt Water seems to be impregnated with the seeds of it, for whenever a Rock is thrown below high Water mark, immediately a Crop of these Weeds Spring up. It is excellent Manure for the Soil. The salts and sulphurs in it are very good. When they thro it into the Kelp Kiln, it is of a dark brown, or a dirty Yellow, but after it has been heated in the Kiln, it turns of a bright clear green. The Fire occasions some Change in the Configuration of the surface, that reflects green Rays most plentifully, where it used to reflect yellow and brown. They burn it into an ashes, which is a fixed salt, which they call Kelp. 20 Tons of the Weeds will produce about one Ton of the ashes. It tastes a little like Gun powder, it smells like marsh Mud, like a muddy Creak, &c. It has a saltish, sulphurous Taste and Smell. —The Deacon shewed us a Sort of Stone, that the old Glass Company brought from Connecticut, to use instead of Grindstone, for the furnace.1 He called it stone of the asbestus Kind. Dr. Eliot2 used it in his [] and never found the fire made any Impression on it. But the Glass men found it dissolved in about 4 months. They call it a Cotten stone. It seems to have no Gritt at all, it feels as soft as soap. It cost the Company about [ . . . ] or £900.—Thus, the first Es• { 140 } says, generally rude, and unsuccessful, prove burdensome instead of profitable.
1. Deacon Joseph Palmer, later called General Palmer, conducted with his brother-in-law Richard Cranch various business enterprises, including a glass manufactory in the Germantown section of Braintree (DAB, under Palmer; Pattee, Old Braintree and Quincy, p. 473–492).
2. Doubtless Jared Eliot (1685–1763), Yale 1706, of Killingworth, Conn.; a Congregational minister, physician, and writer on scientific and agricultural subjects (DAB).
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/