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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 1

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0008-0001-0006

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1763-02


This Action of Trover is an Innovation, one of the new and subtle Inventions in Derogation of the Common Law, that my Lord Coke has treated with so much righteous severity. It is in its Effects and Consequences subversive of all real Actions. It will destroy one of the strongest securities of our landed Property, the Rule that all real Titles1 shall be tryed in the County where the Land lies. That it may be employed as an Instrument of endless Vexation to the poor People who live in distant Counties, who has the Honor of being the first Inventor I know not, but I hope your Honors will crush it as the illegitimate Production of a wanton Hour.2
It is true that, an incidental Question about a local Matter, may [be] decided, in the Tryal of a transitory Action—and it is equally true that, [a] Question may be tryed incidentally, by a Court that has no direct and original Jurisdiction of that Question. Multa conceduntur, per obliquum quse non conceduntur de directo. But this is never suffered but in Cases of Necessity—where Justice cannot be done without it. And This Necessity seems to have been the sole Foundation of my Ld. Holts Opinion in the Case of Brown and Hedges. His Opinion was that an Incidental Question about the Title of Land should not bar the Plaintiff, because if it should, a Man might commit Wastes and Trespasses in Ireland, then take his flight to England and Escape Justice, for no Proscess from any Court in Ireland could run into England: Remedy must be sought in England or no where. But in these Cases there is no such Necessity. Actions may be brought { 241 } in the County where the Lands lie, with the same Ease, and with much better Probability of fair and just Decision than out of them.
Dream of Mr. Pratt. He was seated on a Rock, in the Middle of the Sea, and reflecting on his Journey to N. York,3 leaving his family &c, when the Clouds began to rise from all Quarters of the Horison, and soon thickened and blackened over his Head. The Thunders began to roar And the Lightnings to flash. At last, the Clouds opened and a glorious Luminary, in the shape of an Angel, made its Appearance and addressed Mr. Prat in these Lines

Why mourns the Bard? Apollo bids thee rise,

renounce the Dust, and Claim [thy] native skies.

Minutes of Dr. Marshes Testimony.
I was sent for. Mr. Edwards knew me, asked after my Health, and called me by my Name.
Afterward he gave me, by Word of Mouth the Minute of his Will. He said he intended to give his Wife, the Improvement of his whole Estate during Life. The Thought it seems came into his Mind of giving her the Improvement during her Widowhood, or while she remained his Widow and bore his Name, but that Thought he had Memory and Judgment enough to disapprove, and ordered it be given her for Life.
And after his Wifes Decease, he ordered his Estate to be divided equally between his own and his Wifes nearest Relatives.
And when he was asked, who he intended to make his Executors, he replyed you two, looking to his Brother Edwards and his Wifes Brother Smith who were then present.
The Degrees of Insanity, are infinite from the wildest symptoms of fury, when nothing but Chains can withold the Patient from doing Violence to himself or others, down to some fits of Passion, or some irrational Pangs of Affection. There is perhaps, in every human Mind, in some appearance or another, some Spice or Degree of Madness. The Hero that murders millions to sate his Revenge or Ambition, may surely by the soundest Understanding be denominated a Madman. Yet Alexander, or Charles of Sweeden had no doubt, a sufficient soundness of Mind to dispose of an Estate by Will. Nor can a perfect Memory be demanded. A perfect Memory cannot be believed to exist. Even Xerxes and Caesar, who remembered every face and Name in their Armies, had not perfect Memories.
{ 242 }
Swift v. Vose.
Hobarts Reports, 134. Weaver * and Ward. Skirmishing. No Justification only Excuse, unless Utterly without fault or Negligence.
1. Strange, 596. Underwood v. Hewson. Defendant was uncocking a Gun, and the Plaintiff was standing to see it, it went off and wounded him, and at the Tryal it was held might maintain Trespass.
* Lords of Council’s order to skirmish.
Tilt Turnament. Masters of Defence &c.
Mem. Case of Ideot, Lunatick &c. answerable in Trespass tho not criminal.
Affectation runs thro the whole Man. His Air, his Gate, his Tone, his Gestures, his Pronunciation. There is no Steadiness of Eye or Feature.
Fitch’s Countenance is not Steady. He has a look of Jealousy, and of Diffidence. He has a look of Conceit, affectation, Suspicion, and Diffidence. His swell. His Puff. Gridley has a stedy and fixed face. His face is expressive. When he smiles, his whole face is lighted up. His Lips do not shew a smile when his Brows are frounding, and his Eye complaining. The Brow, the Eye, the Lips and the Voice all alike affected together.
Trowbridge. Oh says Mr. G. They object and say a ——. The officer he informs—why In that Case—redendo singula singulis.—Well—now—
To all young gent[lemen] between [10] and [20]4
Many of the great sages, Phylosophers and statesmen, ancient and modern, have thought that the most effectual Exertion of their Talent Indulgence of the Benevolence for Mankind was by contriving and recommending to youth, Plans of Education and study, to train them early to right Habits of Thinking and of Acting, both for their own private Happiness as well as for the Tranquility, Wealth, Grandeur and Glory of their Country. I who have as much Benevolence, as any Sage, whatever, and Talents enough to advize my own young Countrymen, beg leave to advize them, (lest any one should suffer for want of such Advice tho I must own it is generally well understood that they by all Means, avoid every Appearance of Regard to any of those Properties, formerly respected under the Name of Wit, Humour, sense, Learning, Temperance, Justice, Industry,5
The Cyropedia of Xenophon, and the Treatises of Milton and { 243 } Lock upon Education, tho they might, (Longitude and Latitude considered) be well enough, are yet manifestly useless, at this Time and in this Place. There is it must be confessed, a natural faculty in the human mind (whether it sprang from the Protoplast or any other source I leave to Metaphysitians), that distinguishes between true and false, fair and foul, Virtue and Vice &c—Now the great Aim of the abovementioned Writers on Education was to cultivate this faculty into the most delicate and exquisite Discernment: But believe me, This faculty is become in the Revolution of human Things not only useless, but destructive: believe me, the young man who is silly and obstinate enough to see and to say he sees, one spark of Parts or Virtues in Bluster and his followers e.g. shall with all the Benefactors to a man, be pronounced both a fool and a Knave: shall be opposed and abused on all occasions: e. contra if he sees, and says he sees, one fault, folly, Rashness, Indiscretion, Vice &c. in the same Persons or their Conduct, they and theirs will pronounce the same heavy sentence upon him. It is exactly so with the other side—if you have not a thourough Contempt for the Head and Detestation of the Heart of Bluster and all his followers, you are at once a seditious fellow, have no sense or Probity at all.6
So that the 1st Principle in Prov[incial] Education is to extinguish, stiffle, this most useless, troublesome, pernicious faculty, called the moral sense, [and] cultivate a total and absolute Indifference to Virtue and to Vice: In spight of natural Aversions press to your Bosom, with unbounded Confidence and Affection, the man who is of your side, after you have chosen any side, tho he may be prostitute and abandoned, destitute of every natural or moral Excellence.
Edwards’s Will.
Godolphins orphans Legacy. Part 1. C. 8. Page 23.7
2. Such as are Mad Persons can make no Testament during the time of their Insanity of Mind, no not so much as ad Pios Usus. Nay the Testament made at such a Time shall not be good, tho afterward the Party recover his former Understanding; howbeit, if such Lunatick Persons have any Lucida Intervalla, or Intermissions then during the Time of such Freedom from the Lunacy they may make their Testaments betwixt the fitts. And here note, that every Person is presumed to be of perfect Mind and Memory, untill the Contrary be proved. So that he that objecteth Insanity of Mind, must prove the same, for which [quotation breaks off thus in MS]
C. 21.
{ 244 }
Same Page 65. But regularly by the Laws and Customs of England, two Witnesses, without Exception, are requisite for the due Proof of a Testament and two are sufficient.
Swinbourne 77th. Page 78. Unless the Testator were besides himself but for a short Time and in some Peculiar Actions and not continually for a long space as for a Month or More, &c.
78. It is a hard and difficult Point to prove a Man not to have the Use or Understanding of Reason. And therefore, it is not sufficient for the Witnesses to depose that the Testator was mad or besides his Wits: unless they render a sufficient Reason to prove this their Deposition as that they did see him do such Things or heard him speak such Words as a Man having Reason would not have done or spoken.
78. lower down. If some Witnesses do depose that the Testator was of perfect Mind and Memory and others depose the Contrary, their Testimony is to be preferred which depose that he was of sound Memory, as well for that their Testimony tendeth to the favour And Validity of the Testament, as for that the same is more agreable to the Disposition of Nature, for every man is a Creature reasonable.
79. But if in the Testament there be Mixture of Wisdom and Folly it is to be presumed that the same was made during the Testators Frensy, insomuch that if there be but one Word sounding to Folly, it is presumed that the Testator was not of sound Mind.
Godolphin. Page 24. For it is a very tender and difficult Point to prove a Man not to have the Use of his Reason and Understanding; therefore it is not sufficient for the Witnesses to depose that the Person was mad, unless they render upon Knowledge a sufficient Reason therefor. Neither is one Witness sufficient to prove a Man mad, nor two in Case the one depose of the Testators Madness at one Time and the other of his Madness at another.
But in Contrary Depositions, those Witnesses are to be preferred, which depose that the Testator was of sound Memory: And if he Used to have Intervals of Reason and it be not certainly known, whether the Testament were made in or out of his fits of Lunacy; if no Argument of frenzy or folly can be collected by the Testament, it shall be presumed to be made during the Intermissions of the Lunacy, and so adjudged to be good.
One foolish Word may frustrate the Validity of the whole.
But if a Man who is of good and perfect Memory maketh his Will, and afterwards by the Visitation of God, he becomes of Unsound { 245 } Memory (as every Man is for the most Part, before his death) this Act of God shall not be a Revocation.
Dr. Groenvelt v. Dr. Burrell &c. Ld. Ray[mond] 252.
The Judge will not permit him to have a Copy of the Record if there was probable Cause of the Indictment.
There must be Evidence of express Rancour and Malice, for Innocence is not sufficient where it contains scandal or the Party has been imprisoned.
To be of sound and perfect Memory, is to have a reasonable Memory and Understanding to dispose of his Estate with Reason. 25.8
The Testators mind is the Testaments chief Essential.
Regularly, the Law will presume every man to be of sound Mind and Memory, and will cast the Onus Probandi on him who asserts the Contrary; which is but consonant to the Presumption of Nature itself.
1. MS: “Tiller”—a curious inadvertence.
2. The foregoing notes, like those in the following paragraph, evidently relate to the case of Gardiner v. Purrington, in Suffolk Superior Court, Feb. term, 1763; see Quincy, Reports, p. 59–62. The single other case that has been dated among the further detached legal notes below, that of Swift v. Vose, was settled in the same session of the same court (Superior Court of Judicature, Minute Book 79). These circumstances would seem to warrant dating this whole series of legal notes as Feb.–March 1763.
3. Benjamin Prat was appointed chief justice of New York in March 1761; JA describes in his Autobiography how the members of the bar “waited on” Prat to Dedham when he left for his new post.
4. Fragmentary draft of an essay intended for publication; no printing has been found. The figures in the salutation are illegible and have been guessed at; they are possibly “20” and “30.” The first sentence, though much rewritten, is still defective.
5. Sentence breaks off thus in the MS, and a short interval of space follows, but the ensuing paragraphs appear to belong to the same draft.
6. The dash has been inserted in this sentence to clarify it.
7. JA’s own copies of the works cited here and below in connection with the Edwards will case are among bis books in the Boston Public Library: John Godolphin, The Orphan’s Legacy: or, A Testamentary Abridgement...., 4th edn., London, 1701; Henry Swinburne, A Treatise of Testaments and Last Wills, 5th edn., London, 1728.
8. Here and in the following paragraphs JA is again quoting from Godolphin’s Orphan’s Legacy.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0008-0002-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1763-07-18

[Draft of an Essay on Agriculture in the Boston Gazette, 18 July 1763.]1

Among the Votaries of Science, and the numerous Competitors for Fame and Estimation, Utility seems to have been remarkably neglected. The Utmost subtlety of Wit, and all the labours of pertina• { 246 } cious Industry have been employed by Mathematicians to demonstrate little, unimportant Geometrical Niceties, or in searching for Demonstrations of other Propositions, which there is not the least Probability will ever be found. Philosophers have employed the Advantages of great Genius, Learning, Leisure, and Expense, in examining and displaying before the World, the formation of Shells, and Pebbles, and Insects, in which Mankind are no more interested, than they would be in a laborious Disquisition into or sage Conjectures about the Number of sands in the Moon or of Particles in the solar system. Many learned Pens are employed, much Time spent and much Mischeif and Malevolence occasioned, by Divines about Predestination, [the] Original of Evil, and other abstruse subjects, that having been to no good Purpose under learned Examination so many Centuries may by this Time be well enough concluded unfathomable by the human Line.
But all this while, Agriculture, the Nursing Mother of every Art, Science, Trade and Profession in civilized society, has been most ungratefully despized. It has been too much so in Europe, but infinitely more so in America, and perhaps not the least so in the Massachusetts Bay.
With Advantages of Soil, and Climate, that few Countries under Heaven can presume to boast, will any intelligent Person believe, we do not raise our own Bread? Capable as we are of making easily and at a very small Expence many very wholesome, palatable, and delicate Liquors, will it be believed that we send abroad every Year, at a very great Expence, for others that are unwholesome, disagreable and indelicate?
When it is in our Power, without any Difficulty, to raise many other Commodities, enough not only for our own Consumption, but for Exportation, will it be credited without surprize, that we send every Year, allmost the whole Globe over, to import such Commodities for our own Use?
Yet all these Facts, incredible as they would seem to some worthy People, are indisputably true. But it cannot long continue to be true. The sources of our Wealth are dried away. And unless we seek for Resources, from Improvements in our Agriculture and an Augmentation of our Commerce, we must forego the Pleasure of Delicacies and ornaments, if not the Comfort of real Necessaries, both in Diet and Apparell.
The Intention of this Paper then is to intreat my worthy Countrymen who have any Advantages of Leisure, Education, or Fortune to { 247 } amuse themselves, at convenient opportunities, with the study, and the Practice too, of Husbandry. Nor let the narrow Circumstances of others who have Power to think and Act, discourage them from exerting their talents in the same Way, for

haud facile emergunt, Quorum Virtutibus, obstat

Res angusta Domi—

with all its Truth and Pathos, has done more Mischief in the World by soothing the Pride and Indolence of Genius, than it ever did good, by prompting the rich and Powerfull to seek the solitary Haunts of Merit to amplify its sphere.
In making Experiments, upon the Varieties of soils, and Manures, Grains and Grasses, Trees, and Bushes, and in your Enquiries into the Course and operation of Nature in the Production of these, you will find as much Employment for your Ingenuity, and as high a Gratification to a good Taste, as in any Business or Amusement you can chuse to pursue. The finest Productions of the Poet or the Painter, the statuary or the Architect, when they stand in Competition with the great and beautiful operations of Nature, in the Animal and Vegetable World, must be pronounced mean and despicable Baubles. The Mathematician, the Philosopher, the Chymist, and the Poet may here improve every Branch of their favorite sciences to the Advancement of their Health, the Increase of their Fortunes, and the Benefit of their Country.
But if I might descend without Presumption or offence to Particulars, I would recommend both the Theory and Practice of Husbandry, to Divines and Physicians, more than to any other orders.2 For the former having more Leisure and better opportunities for study than any Men, will find this an agreable Relaxation from the arduous Labours of their Profession, an excellent Exercise for the Preservation of their Health, a means of supplying their families, with many Necessaries, at a trifling Expence that might otherwise cost them dear; and an excellent Example of Ingenuity, and Industry, removing many Temptations of Vice and Folly to the People under their Charge. Besides that their Acquaintance with the sciences subservient to Husbandry, will give them great Advantages, and in the Prosecution of such Enquiries, they will find their sentiments Exalted, their Ideas of divine Attributes displayed in the scenes of Nature, improved, and their Adoration of the great Creator and his Providence increased.
Physicians have many Advantages not only of the World in gen• { 248 } eral, but of other liberal Professions. The Principles of those sciences which subserve more immediately their peculiar occupation are at the same Time the Foundation of all real [and] rational Improvements in Husbandry. Necessitated as they are to much Travel and frequent Conversations, with many sorts of People, they might, for their own Amusement and Diversion, remark the Appearances of Nature, and store their Minds with many useful observations, which they might communicate among their Patients, without the least loss of Time or Interruption to the Duties of their Profession.
These observations were occasioned by a late Piece in your Paper, signed H.P.3—Who was the Author of that Piece, what were his Intentions, in Writing, whether to do good or to do Evil, and why he chose that manner of conveying his Thoughts to the public, it concerns not me to enquire. His professed design is not only good but important. There is no subject, less understood, or less considered perhaps, by Men in general, in this Province, even of the liberal Professions, than the Theory of Agriculture. And the Writer, who should direct with success the Attention of inquisitive Minds, to that Branch of Learning, whether he intended to befriend the public or to blow it into flames, would certainly be the Occasion of much public Utility.
The particular subject which that Writer has chosen to recommend to the Consideration of the Province, promises, more fairly than any other, private Profit to the farmer and the Merchant, public Benefit to the Province, or perhaps Provinces in general, as well as to Great Britain, the Parent and the Protector of them all; whose society of Arts and &c. have discovered their kind concern for us, as well as their wise Care for their native Country, by offering Praemiums and Encouragements, for the Raising of this Commodity in New England as well as many other Ways. It is said that, “a Thousand Weight to an Acre is an ordinary Crop of Hemp.” And it has been said too, by good authority, that “an Acre of Land well tilled will produce a Tun Weight” and that “a Tun of it, is worth sixty Pounds lawful Money.” It is said also that “several hundred Thousand Pounds worth of foreign Hemp, are yearly expended in New England.” And it is said too, that “Hemp may be raised on dreigned Lands,” and that “if we can raise more than to supply our own Occasions we may send it Home.”
It was not without good sense, then that Mr. Plough Jogger undertook to recommend this Plant to the Enquiries of the Curious, the Tryal of Husbandmen, the Encouragement of Statesmen and the Industry of the Laborious.
{ 249 }
Give me Leave therefore to do myself the Honour, to claim the Merit with my Countrymen and their Posterity, of seconding without the least sneer or Banter, Mr. Ploughjogger, in his Attempt to introduce and recommend this subject so important to the Consideration and Industry of my fellow Countrymen, the Inhabitants of New England in General, and of this Province in Particular.
Hemp is a Plant of great Importance in the Arts and Manufactories, as it furnishes a great Variety of Threads, Cloths, and Cordage. It bears the nearest Resemblance and Analogy, to Flax, in its Nature, the Manner of its Cultivation, and the Purposes to which it serves. It must be annually sown afresh. It arises, in a little space of Time, into a tall, slim, shrub, with an hollow stem. It bears a small round seed, filled with a solid Pulp. Its Bark is a Tissue of Fibres, joined together with a soft substance, which easily rots it. There are two Kinds of Hemp, Male and Female. The Male only bears the seed, and from that seed arises both Male and Female.
The seed should be sown in the Month of May, in a warm, sandy, rich soil. They begin to gather it about [the first of August],4 the female being soonest Ripe. The Proofs of its Ripeness, are the alteration of the Colour of its leaves to Yellow, and its stalks to white. It must be pulled up by the Roots, and then bound in Bundles. The Male should stand 8 or 10 days in the Air, that the seed may ripen, which they afterwards get out, by cutting off the Heads and threshing or beating them. It must then be watered by laying it about a Week in a Pond, in order not to rot the Bark. I say a Pond, tho a Brook would be better if it did not give the Water an unwholesome Quality. After it is taken out and dryed the woody Part of the stem must be broken from the Bark which covers it, by crushing it in an Instrument called a Brake, beginning at the Roots. After it has been sufficiently broken, the small shivers must be swingled out, as we swingle Flax. When this is done it must be beat on a Block or in a Trough, with an Hammer or with Beetles, till it becomes soft and Pliable. When it has been well beaten, it must be heckled, or passed thro a toothed Instrument, like the Clothiers Comb, to seperate the shorter Tow, from that which is fit to be spun.
This is a very short Answer to Mr. Plough Joggers Inquiries, but if he or any other Person has a Curiosity to see a more particular Account of this Plant, (and give me leave to tell him and them there is not an Herb from the Cedar in Lebanon, to the Hyssop in the Wall, that can be studied to more Advantage) let them consult the Compleat Body of Husbandry, Chambers’s Dictionary, the Praeceptor and Nature delineated.
{ 250 }
To conclude Let the World in general consider, that the Earth, and the seas and the Air, are to furnish all Animals, with food and Raiment; that mere animal strength, which is common to Beasts and Men, is not sufficient to avail us of any considerable Part of the bountiful Provision of Nature; that our Understandings, as well as our Arms and feet, must be employed in this service. And Let the few who have been distinguished by greater intellectual Abilities than Mankind in general, consider, that Nature intended them for Leaders of Industry. Let them be cautious of certain Airs of Wisdom and superiority by which some Gentlemen of real sense and Learning, and Public spirit, giving offence to the common People, have in some Measure defeated their own benevolent Intentions. Let them not be too sparing of their Application or Expence, lest failing of visible Profit and success they expose themselves to Ridicule and rational Husbandry itself to Disgrace among the common People. Human Nature is not so stupid or so abandoned, as many worthy men imagine, and even the common People, if their peculiar Customs and Modes of thinking are a little studied, [are not] so ungrateful, or untractible, but that their Labours may be conducted, by the Genius and Experience of a few, to very great and useful Purposes. U.
1. This draft appears in the middle of D/JA/9, between entries dated in Feb. 1763, but it could not have been written before late June since it was evoked by a piece signed “Humphrey Ploughjogger” in the Boston Evening-Post, 20 June 1763. There is the strongest ground for believing that JA himself wrote this and the other Ploughjogger pieces that appeared in that paper this year, namely his own testimony, and that, accordingly, he was carrying on a dialogue with himself in the two leading Boston papers (though the draft itself shows that he first intended the present essay for the Evening Post rather than the Boston Gazette, where it eventually appeared). The question of his authorship of Ploughjogger’s mildly facetious essays, all of them written in rustic dialect and phonetic spelling anticipating the school of Artemus Ward, cannot and need not be gone into here, but see JA to CA, 13 Feb. 1792 (MHi), and also a list of JA’s writings compiled by his nephew William Smith Shaw, in the CFA Miscellany (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 327).
The draft as it stands in the Diary is very rough and has a number of additions at the end, some of them keyed into the text by asterisks and some not. It could hardly have been rationalized at all if a printed text had not been found which shows the order of the material as JA finally wished it. The present text follows that final order, but only a few of the many differences in phrasing between the draft and the newspaper version have been noted.
2. In the newspaper text JA added at this point: “without enquiring into the Truth of the Observation, that the Lawyers among us, are the most curious in Husbandry, which, if true, is unnatural and accidental.”
3. The newspaper text reads, instead: “These Reflections have been occasion’d, by a late Piece in the Evening-Post, signed Humphrey Ploughjogger.” The piece referred to appeared in the issue of 20 June and begins: “I arnt book larnt enuff, to rite so polytly, as the great gentlefolks, that rite in the News-Papers, about Pollyticks. I think it is pitty, they should know how to rite so well, saving they made better use ont. And that they might do, if they would rite about some• { 251 } thing else.” Ploughjogger then suggests a fresh topic. “What I’me ater is, to get some great larnt gentleman, who has been to Old Ingland, and knows how they raise Hemp there, and can read books about it, and understand urn, to print in your News, some direckshon, about it, that we may go to trying, for we cant afford to run venters, by working, may be, a month and then have nothing come of it for want of working right.”
4. Bracketed words supplied from the newspaper text for a blank in MS.
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, 2017.