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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0005-0008-0002

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1760-12-02

1760. Decr. 2d.1

Spent the Evening at Coll. Q.’s with Captn. Freeman. About the middle of the Evening Dr. Lincoln and his Lady came in. The Dr. gave us an ample Confirmation of our Opinion of his Brutality and Rusticity. He treated his Wife, as no drunken Cobler, or Clothier would have done, before Company. Her father never gave such Looks and Answers to one of his slaves in my Hearing. And he contradicted he Squibd, shrugged, scouled, laughd at the Coll. in such a Manner as the Coll. would have called Boorish, ungentlemanly, unpolite, ridiculous, in any other Man. More of the Clown, is not in the World. A hoggish, ill bred, uncivil, haughty, Coxcomb, as ever I saw. His Wit is forced and affected, his Manners to his father, Wife, and to Company are brutally rustic, he is ostentatious of his Talent at Disputation, forever giving an History, like my Uncle Hottentot,2 of some Wrangle he has had with this and that Divine. Affects to be thought an Heretic. Disputes against the Eternity of Hell, torments &c. His treatment of his Wife amazed me. Miss Q. asked the Dr. a Question. Miss Lincoln seeing the Dr. engaged with me, gave her Mother an Answer, which however was not satisfactory.3 Miss Q. repeats it. “Dr. you did not hear my Question.”—“Yes I did, replies the Dr., and the Answer to it, my Wife is so pert, she must put in her Oar, or she must blabb, before I could speak.” And then shrugged And affected a laugh, to cow her as he used to, the freshmen and sophymores at Colledge. { 177 } —She sunk into silence and shame and Grief, as I thought.—After supper, she says “Oh my dear, do let my father see that Letter we read on the road.” Bela answers, like the great Mogul, like Nero or Caligula, “he shant.”—Why, Dr., do let me have it! do!—He turns his face about as stern as the Devil, sour as Vinegar. “I wont.”—Why sir says she, what makes you answer me so sternly, shant and wont?—Because I wont, says he. Then the poor Girl, between shame and Grief and Resentment and Contempt, at last, strives to turn it off with a Laugh.—“I wish I had it. Ide shew it, I know.”—Bela really acts the Part of the Tamer of the Shrew in Shakespear. Thus a kind Look, an obliging Air, a civil Answer, is a boon that she cant obtain from her Husband. Farmers, Tradesmen, Soldiers, Sailors, People of no fortune, Figure, Education, are really more civil, obliging, kind, to their Wives than he is.—She always is under Restraint before me. She never dares shew her endearing Airs, nor any fondness for him.
1. First entry in D/JA/6, an assemblage of loose sheets in which JA made entries at rather irregular intervals until 3 March 1761. About half of these entries, including the present one, were not printed by CFA in his edition of the Diary, and those he did print are frequently incomplete.
2. This allusion is not now explainable.
3. The nomenclature in this passage is somewhat puzzling. “Miss Q.” can only mean “Mistress Quincy,” the wife of Col. Josiah Quincy, since she is immediately identified as the “Mother” (actually stepmother) of “Miss” (i.e. Mistress) Lincoln, that is to say of Hannah (Quincy) Lincoln. From this it is evident that Elizabeth (Waldron) Quincy, the Colonel’s 2d wife, was living in Dec. 1760, though the date of her death is usually given as 1759. (Quincy married a third time, but not until 1762.)

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0005-0008-0003

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1760-12-06

Decr. 6th. 1760.

Talked with Zab about Newton, Bacon, Lock, Martin, Chambers, Rowning, Desaguliers, S’Gravesende &c. I told him I had a low Opinion of the Compilers, Abridgers, and Abstract makers. We had better draw science from its fountain in original Authors. These Writers, the Hirelings of the Booksellers, only vend us the Discoveries of other Philosophers, in another form, and under another Title, in order to get Bread to eat and Raiment to put on.—Zab says, that Martin has made several Discoveries—has invented new Machines, improved and perfected old ones, nay has even detected Errors in Newton. E.g. Newton always thought, the Moon was surrounded by an Atmosphere, but Martin proved it is not; because the Starrs, that appear all round it above, below and on each side of it, are not diminished in their Lustre, as they would appear, if the Rays passed from them thro an Atmosphere.
Then we transited to Dr. Simpson [Simson], Euclid &c. and he { 178 } | view asked me to demonstrate, that the 3 Angles of a Triangle are equal to 2 Right. I undertook it. Draw a right Line, A.B. Erect the Perpendicular, C.D. Draw the Hypothenuse D.A. Parallel to A.D. draw the Line C.E.
graphic here
Now I say that the 3 Angles ACD., CDA., and DAC are equal to two right Angles. For it is easy to see that DCA., is a right Angle, and that BCE, which is equal to CAD added to ECD, which is equal to CDA, make another right Angle. But how do I know that BCE is equal to CAD? Let the Triangle ECB, be moved along, to the left hand and by the Hypothesis CE will fall upon AD and CB Upon AC, and of Consequence the 2 Angles are equal. How then do I know that the Angle ECD is equal to ADC? See the Dem[onstration] in Euclid.
graphic here { 179 }
Then we attempted to demonstrate the 47th of the 1st Book. That the Square of the Hypothenuse is equal to the Squares of both the Legs.
I am astonished at my own Ignorance in the french tongue. I find I can neither express my own Thoughts, in it, nor understand others, who express theirs readily in it. I can neither give nor receive Thoughts, by that Instrument.
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/