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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 1

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0009-0005-0008

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1765-12-25

Decr. 25th. 1765. Christmas.

At Home. Thinking, reading, searching, concerning Taxation without Consent, concerning the great Pause and Rest in Business. By the Laws of England Justice flows, with an uninterupted Stream: In that Musick, the Law knows of neither Rests nor Pauses. Nothing but Violence, Invasion or Rebellion can obstruct the River or untune the Instrument.
Concerning a Compensation to the Sufferers by the late Riots in Boston.—Statute of Winchester, chap. 2. if the County will not answer the Bodies of the offenders, the People there shall be answerable for all the Robberies done, and also for the Damages.—Wingates Ab[ridg-men]t Tit[le] Robberies.
Nulli vendemus, nulli negabimus, aut deferemus Iustitiam. Every Writ supposes the King present in all his Courts of Justice.
Ld. Coke says, Against this ancient and fundamental Law, and in the face thereof, I find an Act of Parliament made, that As well Justices of Assize as Justices of Peace, without any finding or Present• { 274 } ment [by the verdict] of 12 Men, upon a bare Information for the K[ing] before them made, should have full Power and Authority, by their Discretions, to hear and determine all offences and Contempts, vs. the form, ordinance and Effect of any stat[ute] by Colour of which Act shaking this Fundamental Law, it is not credible what horrible Oppressions and Exactions were committed by Sir Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley. And upon this unjust and injurious Act a new Office was created, and they made Masters of the Kings Forfeitures. But at the Parliament 1 H. 8. this Act II H. 7. is recited, made void and repealed. The fearful End of these two Oppressors, should deter others from committing the like, and admonish Parliaments, that instead of this ordinary and precious Tryal Per Legem Terrae, they bring not in absolute and partial Tryals by Discretion.1
Went not to Christmas. Dined at Home. Drank Tea at Grandfather Quincys.2 The old Gentleman, inquisitive about the Hearing before the Governor and Council, about the Governors and secretaries Looks and Behaviour, and about the final Determination of the Board. The old Lady as merry and chatty as ever, with her Stories out of the News Papers, of a Woman longing to throw beef Stakes in a Mans Face and giving him a Pipe of Madeira for humouring of her, and of the Doctor who could tell by a Persons Face all the Disorders he or she had suffered and would suffer.
Spent the Evening at Home, with my Partner and no other Company.
Mr. S. Adams told me he was glad I was nominated for several Reasons.—1 st. Because he hoped that such an Instance of Respect from the Town of Boston, would make an Impression on my Mind, and secure my Friendship to the Town from Gratitude. 2dly. He was in Hopes such a Distinction from Boston, would be of Service to my Business and Interest. 3d. He hoped that Braintree, finding the Eyes of Boston were upon me, would fix their’s on me too, next May. His Hopes, in the two first Particulars, may be well grounded, but I am sure not in the Third.
Clarendon to Pym.3
Pray recollect Mr. Pym, the cruel Exactions of Empson and Dudley, under an Act of Parliament, far less <extravagant> dangerous to Liberty than those which you defend. Recollect the old Sage Coke, and recollect Magna Charta which your Tribe used to think more sacred than scripture. Consider once more this hideous Taxation, more cruel and ruinous than Danegeld of old, which Speed says emptyed the Land { 275 } of all the Coigne, the Kingdom of her Glory, the Commons of their Content, and the sovereign of his wonted Respects and Observance. Recollect, Mr. Pym, a scene in the Tragedy of K[ing] H[enry] 8th. I think you was once an Admirer of Shakespear. Vid. V. 5. 284. 285. 286.4 A scene which may be very properly recommended to modern Monarks, Queens, and Favourites. I will repeat it, Mr. Pym, for the Comfort of your Soul, for you always delighted in Ruin and Confusion—an hundred Years past you endeavoured to embroil as an Advocate for Liberty. Now it seems you are aiming at the same delightful object by enlisting under the bloody Banners of Tyranny.
You tell us that a Resolution of the B[ritish] Parliament can at any Time anull all the Charters of all our Monarcks. But would such an Act of Parliament do no wrong? Would it be obeyed? Would one Member of Parliament who voted for it, return to his Country alive? No You would have been the first Man in the Kingdom, when you was in the flesh, to have taken Arms against such a Law. You would have torn up the Foundations and demolished the whole Fabrick of the Government, and have suffered Democracy, Aristocracy, Monarchy, Anarchy, any thing or nothing to have arisen in its Place.
1. A quotation, with inaccuracies and elisions, from Sir Edward Coke’s commentary on Magna Charta in the Second Institute, cap. 29.
2. Col. John Quincy of Mount Wollaston, AA’s maternal grandfather. His wife was Elizabeth Norton of Hingham (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 5 : 445).
3. The following fragment contains part of the text of “Clarendon’s” second letter to “Pym” as printed in the Boston Gazette, 20 Jan. 1766, together with some matter never printed.
4. This is a volume-and-page reference to JA’s own set of Shakespeare’s Works (Edinburgh, 1761), which remains, with some volumes missing, among his books in the Boston Public Library. The passage referred to in Henry the Eighth is in Act I, Scene ii (according to modern editions, but Scene iv according to JA’s), in which Queen Katherine pleads successfully with the King for the removal of taxes burdensome to his subjects. See entry of 4 Jan. 1766, below.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0009-0005-0009

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1765-12-26

Decr. 26th. 1765 Thursday.

At Home by the Fireside viewing with Pleasure, the falling Snow and the Prospect of a large one.
Clarendon to Pym.1
The gallant Struggle in America, is founded in Principles so indisputable, in the moral Law, in the revealed Law of God, in the true Constitution of great Britain, and in the most apparent Welfare of the Nation as well as the People in America, that I must confess it rejoices my very Soul. For you know, that altho I was always of the Royal Party, { 276 } and for avoiding Violence and Confusion, and was oftentimes transported by my Loyalty and Zeal for the nations Peace, to some Excesses, Yet I never defended the real Infringments on the Constitution. I was as heartily for rectifying all those Abuses, and for procuring still further security of Freedom as any of you. For my Education had been in the Law the Grounds of which were so rivited in me that no Temptation could make me swerve from them: Besides you very well remember the surprizing Anecdote relative to my father and me. That Scene will remain with indelible Impressions on my soul throughout Duration. I see the good old Gentleman even at this Distance of Time. I see in his aged venerable Countenance that ardent parental affection to me, that Zeal for the Laws of his Country, that fervent Love of his Country, and that exalted Piety to God and good Will to all Mankind, which constituted his Character. I was upon one of the Circuits, which lead me down to my native Country, and I went to pay a Vizit to my Aged Father. He gave me an Invitation to take a Walk with him in the Field.—Says he, my Son, I am very old and this will probably be the last Time I shall ever see your Face. Your Welfare is near my Heart. The Reputation you have gained, for Learning, Probity, Skill and Eloquence in your Profession will in all Probability call you to manage the great Concerns of this nation in Parliament, and to Council your King in some of the greatest Offices of State. Give me Leave to warn you, against that Ambition which I have often observed in Men of your Profession, which will sacrifice all to their own Advancement. And I charge you, on my Blessing, never to forget this Nation, but to stand by the Law, the Constitution, and the real Welfare and Freedom of this Nation vs. all Temptations, &c.—The Words were scarcely pronounced before his Zeal and Conscience were too great for his strength and he fell dead before my Eyes. His Words sunk deep into my Heart, and no Temptation, no Byass or Prejudice could ever obliterate them. And you Mr. Pym are one Witness for me, that I never even excused the Nations real Grievances, while I sat in Parliament with you. And after the Restoration, when the Nation rushed into Madness with Loyalty, I was obliged to make a stand to Preserve even the Appearance of the Constitution: And in the Reign of my infamous and detestible tho royal son in Law James 2d. I chose to go into Banishment, rather than renounce the Liberties of the Nation.
You may easily believe therefore that the Conduct of the Americans, is quite agreable to me. My Resentment and Indignation is unutterable, when I see those worthy People chain’d and fettered by a few aban• { 277 } doned Villains in the Interest of France, Rome and Hell and even in the Reign of a wise, and good King.
Mr. Smith2 and Dr. Tufts came in from Boston. Nothing remarkable.3 Dr. Savil spent the Evening here. Chat about the Memorial and the Hearing.
A Dissertation Upon Seekers—of Elections, of Commissions from the Governour, of Commissions from the Crown.4
Of Elections when they give your5 £100 l.M. towards building a new Meeting House, and an 100 Old Ten. towards repairing one, or 50 dollars, towards repairing High Ways, or Ten Dollars to the Treasury, towards the support of the poor of the Town—or when they are very liberal of their drams of Brandy, and lumps of Sugar, and of their Punch, &c. on May meeting days. These are commonly Persons, who have some further Views and Designs. These Largesses aim at something further than your Votes. These Persons aim at being Justices, Sheriffs, Judges, Colonells, and when they get to Court, they will be hired and sell their Votes, as you sold yours to them. But there is another Sort of seekers worse than the other two,—such as seek to be Governors, Lt. Governors, secretaries, Custom-House-Officers of all Sorts, Stamp officers of all sorts, in fine such as seek Appointments from the Crown. These Seekers are actuated by a more ravenous sort of Ambition and Avarice and they merit a more aggravated Condemnation. These ought to be avoided and dreaded as the Plague, as the destroying Angells. And the evil Spirits are as good Objects of your Trust as they. Let no such Man ever have the Vote of a Free holder or a Rep[resentative]. Let no such Man be trusted.
1. This fragment contains portions of the second “Clarendon” letter as printed in the Boston Gazette, 20 Jan. 1766. The published text varies markedly from the draft.
2. Probably Isaac Smith Sr. (1719–1787), AA’s uncle, a Boston merchant and shipowner.
3. This indicates that Smith and Tufts had not heard before leaving town of the proceedings of the Boston town meeting of this day, at which it was reported that the probate courts of the Province “would be opened” without stamped paper, that the Sheriff of Suffolk co. “had served and was ready to serve all Writts brought to him, and that the Court of Common Pleas for said County next in course to sit, would meet & proceed to Business.” The meeting also voted that the Boston representatives in the General Court apply to Governor Bernard “humbly to desire that the General Assembly of this Province be not further prorogued.” (Boston Record Commissioners, 16th Report, p. 160–161.)
4. This entry is obviously the beginning of another piece intended for a newspaper. No printing has been found.
5. Thus in MS, but almost certainly an error for “you.”
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, 2018.