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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 1


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).

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0005-0002-0018

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1760-06-21

June 21st. 1760. Saturday.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0005-0002-0019

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1760-06-23

June 23rd. 1760. Monday.

A long obstinate Tryal, before Majr. Crosby, of the most litigious, vexatious suit, I think that ever I heard. Such Disputes begin with ill humour and scurrilous language, and End in a Boxing Bout or a Law suit.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0005-0002-0020

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1760-06-24

Tuesday. 24th. June.

Arose early, a very beautiful Morning. Zab. seems to make insufficient Distinctions between the Vowells. He seems to swallow his own Voice. He neither sounds the Vowells nor Articulates distinctly. The story of Yesterdays Tryal, spreads. Salisbury told my Uncle and my Uncle told Coll. Quincy. They say I was saucy, that I whipped the old Major, &c., that I ripped about the Law suits of this Town And of that House, and that I reminded the Majer of his oath to be of Council to neither Party, and to do Justice equally between the Parties according to Law.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0005-0002-0021

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1760-06-25

Wednesday [25 June].

Went out with the Coll., in his Canoe, after Tom Codd. Rowed down, in a still calm, and smooth Water, to Rainsford Island, round which we fished in several Places, but had no Bites. Then we went up the Island, and round the Hill. Upon the North Easterly side of the Hill, or Island, is a prodigious Bank or Head, which is perpetually washing away, with Rains and Tides. Heartley says it has been washed away 10 feet since he lived on the Island. The Rocks all round the Island are covered with long, rank, rich Weeds, 3 Years old, which Heartley sells at 5s. a Load.1
At one of the Clock we took our Mutton and Cyder, under the shade of a fine Tree, and laid our Provisions on a large flat stone which answered for Table, Dish and Plate, and then we dined expecting with { 141 } much Pleasure an easy sail Home before the Wind, which then bread2 fresh at East. After Diner we boarded and hoisted sail, and sailed very pleasantly a Mile, when the Wind died away into a Clock Calm and left us to row against the Tide, and presently against the Wind too for that sprung up at south, right a Head of us, and blew afresh. This was hard work. Doubtful what Course to steer, whether to Nut Island, or to Half Moon,3 or to Hangmans Island or to Sunken Island, Coll. Q. grew sick which determined us to go ashore at Hangmans for that was the nearest. As soon as he set foot on shore he vomited, very heartily, and then weak and faignt, and spiritless, he crawled up to the Gunning House, and wrapping his great Coat round him, lay down on the sea weed and slept, while I rambled round the Island after Weeds and flowers and stones and young Gulls and Gulls Eggs. 500 Gulls I suppose hovered cawing and screaming over the Island, for fear of their Eggs and Young ones, all the time we were there. When the Coll. awoke and found himself strengthened and inspirited, we rowed away, under Half Moon, and then hoisted sail and run home. So much for the Day of Pleasure, The fishing frolick, the Water frolick. We had none of the Pleasure of Angling, very little of the Pleasure of Sailing. We had much of the fatigue of Rowing, and some of the Vexation of Disappointment. However the Exercise and the Air and smell of salt Water is wholesome.
1. This entire entry was omitted by CFA in editing JA’s Diary, perhaps because, though it records a characteristic incident, it shows Col. Josiah Quincy in a momentarily undignified posture. The course of the fishing expedition among the islands of Boston Harbor and Quincy Bay may be traced on the map in Shurtleff, Description of Boston, facing p. 518. Hangman or Hangman’s Island is about midway between Squantum and Hough’s Neck, in shoal water some two miles northeast of the mouth of Black’s Creek in present Quincy. Rainsford Island, about two miles farther northeast, had been in use by the town of Boston for quarantine and hospital purposes since 1737 (same, p. 523–525). For present-day details see U.S. Geological Survey map of Hull, Mass.
2. That is, “bred”? But possibly an end-of-line contraction for “breathed.”
3. Half Moon Island, now submerged except at low tide, formed a half-circle in the flats just off the mouth of Black’s Creek. It faced what was called Mount Wollaston Farm, the estate of Col. John Quincy and his son Norton, AA’s uncle. After Norton Quincy’s death in 1801, Mount Wollaston Farm came into the possession of the Adamses, partly by bequest and partly by purchase. A few years later the title to the island came into dispute because it had long been used by fishing and hunting parties from the neighboring towns. Thereupon JA wrote an historical and legal memorandum that provides an engaging account of Half Moon Island as he had known it since boyhood. This undated memorandum is in the Adams Papers under the assigned date of 1806. On 7 April 1806 a Quincy town meeting voted “To dismiss the article respecting fishing and fowling on half-moon, viz.:—'To know if the town will maintain their right and priviledge, according to old custom, in fishing and fowling on half-moon, and if any inhabitant should be prosecuted on that account, that the town, as a town, { 142 } would defend the prosecution’” (Pattee, Old Braintree and Quincy, p. 98). Search of the (unpublished) Quincy Town Records reveals nothing more on this subject.
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/