A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
close
-
The Adams Papers Digital Edition is undergoing active maintenance while we work on improvements to the system. You may experience slow performance or the inability to access content. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We will endeavor to return to full capabilities as soon as possible.

Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0011-0002-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1767-04-04

April 4th. 1767.1

Suits generally Spring from Passion. Jones vs. Bigelow, Cotton and Nye arose from Ambition. Jones and Bigelow were Competitors for Elections in the Town of Weston, Cotton and Nye were Rivals at Sandwich. Such Rivals have no Friendship for each other. From such Rivalries originate Contentions, Quarrells and Suits. Actions of Defamation are the usual Fruits of such Competitions. What affection can there be between two Rival Candidates for the Confidence of a Town. The famous Action of slander at Worcester between Hopkins and Ward, of Rhode Island, Sprouted from the same Stock. There the Aim was at the Confidence of the Colony.
Poor Nye of Sandwich, seems dejected. I should suspect by his Concern that Cotton gained Ground vs. him. He seems to be hipp’d. It fretts and worries and mortifies him. He cant sleep a Nights. His Health is infirm.
Cotton is insane, wild. His Proposal of giving his House and Farm { 334 } at Sandwich to the Province, is a Proof of Insanity. He has Relations that are poor. Jno. Cotton is now poor enough. He has a Brother Josiah Cotton the Minister whom he procured to be removed to Woburn, and thereby to be ruin’d, who is very poor, maintained by Charity. Roland was Josiahs ruin; yet he did not choose to give his Estate to Josiah. Besides his Behaviour at Boston upon that occasion, was wild. His sitting down at the Council Table with his Hat on and Calling for his Deed and a Justice to acknowledge it, when the Council was sitting.
Cottons Method of getting Papers Signed by Members, in order to demolish poor Nye is new. The Certificate from Murray and Foster if genuine is a mean, scandalous Thing. It was mean in Murray and Foster to sign that Paper. For one Rep[resentative] to give a Constituent a Weapon to demolish another Rep., is ungentlemanlike.2
1. First regular entry in “Paper book No. 14” (D/JA/14), though preceded by the detached notes on legal cases which have been inserted above under date of July 1766.
2. The case of Roland Cotton v. Stephen Nye, the latter of whom had succeeded the former as representative from Sandwich in the General Court in 1761, was an action for defamation. The plaintiff was awarded damages in Barnstable Inferior Court in April. JA appealed for the defendant to the Superior Court at its Barnstable session in May but again lost; see the entries for 16 and 17in May, below. Paine and Otis served as Cotton’s counsel. Nye was obliged to pay £7 damages and £15 13s. 5d. costs. (JA, List of Cases in Bristol, Plymouth, and Barnstable Courts, 1764–1767, and notes on Cotton v. Nye, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reels 184, 185; Superior Court of Judicature, Minute Book 82).

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0011-0002-0002

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1767-04-08

1767 April 8th. Wednesday.

Mounted my Horse in a very Rainy Morning for Barnstable leaving my Dear Brother Cranch and his family at my House where they arrived last Night, and my Wife, all designing for Weymouth this Afternoon to Keep the fast with my father Smith and my Friend Tufts.— Arrived at Dr. Tufts’s, where I found a fine Wild Goose on the Spit and Cramberries stewing in the Skillet for Dinner. Tufts as soon as he heard that Cranch was at Braintree determined to go over, and bring him and Wife and Child and my Wife and Child over to dine upon wild Goose and Cramberry Sause.
Proceeded without Baiting to Jacobs’s where I dined. Lodged at Howlands. Rode next day, baited at Ellis’s, dined at Newcombs and proceeded to Barnstable, lodged at Howes’s and feel myself much better than I did when I came from Home. But I have had a very wet, cold, dirty, disagreable Journey of it.—Now I am on the stage and the scene is soon to open, what Part shall I act?—The People of the County I find are of opinion that Cotton will worry Nye. But Nye must come off, with flying Colours.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0011-0003-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1767-05-16

May [16], 1767. Saturday Night.1

At Howlands in Plymouth. Returned this day from Barnstable. The Case of Cotton and Nye at Sandwich is remarkable. Cotton has been driving his Interest. This driving of an Interest, seldom succeeds. Jones of Weston, by driving his, drove it all away.—Where two Persons in a Town get into such a Quarrell, both must be very unhappy—Reproaching each other to their faces, relating facts concerning each other, to their Neighbours. These Relations are denied, repeated, misrepresented, additional and fictitious Circumstances put to them, Passions inflamed. Malice, Hatred, Envy, Pride fear, Rage, Despair, all take their Turns.
Father and son, Uncle and Nephew, Neighbour and Neighbour, Friend and Friend are all set together by the Ears. My Clients have been the Sufferers in both these Representative Causes. The Court was fixed in the Sandwich Case. Cotton is not only a Tory but a Relation of some of the Judges, Cushing particularly. Cushing married a Cotton, Sister of Jno. Cotton, the Register of Deeds at Plymouth. Cushing was very bitter, he was not for my arguing to the Jury the Question whether the Words were Actionable or not. He interrupted me— stopped me short, snapd me up.—“Keep to the Evidence—keep to the Point—dont ramble all over the World to ecclesiastical Councils—dont misrepresent the Evidence.” This was his impartial Language. Oliver began his Speech to the Jury with—“A Disposition to slander and Defamation, is the most cursed Temper that ever the World was plagued with and I believe it is the Cause of the greatest Part of the Calamities that Mankind labour under.” This was the fair, candid, impartial Judge. They adjudged solemnly, that I should not dispute to the Jury, whether the Words were actionable or not.
1. To this and the next two entries (which conclude D/JA/14) the editors have assigned specific days of the month because they were obviously written on successive days almost immediately following JA’s unsuccessful appeal in the case of Cotton v. Nye at Barnstable Superior Court. That appeal is known to have been heard on Thursday, 14 May; see note on entry of 4 April, above.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0011-0003-0002

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1767-05-17

1767 May [17] Sunday.

At Plymouth, went to Mr. Robbins’s Meeting in the Morning, and sat with Mr. Hovey. Dined with Coll. Warren.1 Went to Mr. Bacons Meeting in the Afternoon and satt with Coll. Warren. Drank Tea at my Lodgings. Robbins preached upon doing the Will of God, and Bacon on Peace, and Goodwill. Judge Cushing was also at the Upper Meeting in the Morning and at the lower, in the Afternoon. Cushing { 336 } has the sly, artfull, cunning—Artifice and Cunning is the reigning Characteristic in his face. The sly Sneer.—My Landlady Howland gives me a melancholly History of her Husbands Lawsuit, which lasted 20 Years, and brought him to Poverty. She says that Cushings father in Law Cotton, had an House on one Lott of Land that her Husband was Heir to in Tail, and her Husband was obliged to suffer a Common Recovery of that Lot and convey it to Cotton before Cushing would give Judgment. Saltonstall kept it 5 Years depending merely for his Opinion and Cushing many Years more. So that the Case of Roland Cotton last Week at Barnstable is not the only Case in which Cushing has at all Hazards supported the Interests of the Cotton Family. The father of Judge Cushings Wife, and Mr. Cotton the Register &c. was a Man of Figure in this County, Register of Deeds, Clerk of the Court and afterwards Judge—an odd, ‘tho a sensible Man.
We shall see more of the cursed Cunning of this Cushing in the Case of Dumb Tom the Pauper. It was a Trick of his. The Secresy of the Removal was a Trick and Artifice of his. And he is now about to Certiorari him into Pembroke. He was first sent into Pembroke by secret Deviltry, and now is to be sent there again by open Deviltry. But Memento—Three Judges at Barnstable were for dismissing an Appeal to them from Marthas Vinyard because the Plaintiff had accepted of a bad Plea or no Plea. They said it was the Plaintiffs fault that he had accepted such a Plea. Now in the Case of Scituate, was it not the Select Mens fault that they had gone to Tryal without a written Answer?
A Question I shall make is, whether dumb Toms gaining a Settlement, at Tiverton or Bristol, has not annihilated his Settlement at Pembroke? No Pauper has two Settlements at once—a new settlement destroys an old one. He cant have a Settlement at Bristol and another at Pembroke at the same Time. Now is it not Scituates Duty to remove him to Bristol? But how can they?—But another Question is whether the secresy of the Removal, the Manifest Artifice and Trick, to charge Pembroke, shall not screen Pembroke? A Collusion it was. If a Woman pregnant of a Bastard Child is sent in the Night, private secretly into a Parish on Purpose that she may be delivered there, the Parish shall not be charged—for the Law will protect Parishes from such Frauds. Secresy never was more gross, nor fraud more manifest. Sent in the Night, 18 months old, by the Mother and a Negro, to a Squaws Wigwam, on purpose that it never might be suspected, but that it might be taken for an Indian. The Imposition was infinite upon the Poor Squaw.
{ 337 }
Spent the Evening at Mr. Hoveys, with Deacon Foster and Dr. Thomas. The Deacon was very silent. The Dr. pretty sociable.
1. James Warren, representative in the General Court from Plymouth and later prominent in Revolutionary politics. Warren’s wife was the former Mercy Otis, a sister of the younger James Otis and an ambitious aspirant to fame as a poet and historian. Within a few years the Adamses and the Warrens formed a very intimate circle of friends and correspondents.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0011-0003-0003

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1767-05-18

Monday Morning [18 May]

A fine Sun and Air.
Cushing at Barnstable said to me—happy is he whom other Mens Errors, render wise.1—Otis by getting into the general Court, has lost his Business.—Felix quern faciunt aliena Pericula cautum—other Mens Dangers, Errors, Miscarriages, Mistakes, Misfortunes.
1. From neither the punctuation nor the substance of this paragraph is it possible to tell where Judge Cushing’s direct discourse ends, but most likely it ends here.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0012-0001-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1768-01-30

1768. January 30th. Saturday Night.1

To what Object, are my Views directed? What is the End and Purpose of my Studies, Journeys, Labours of all Kinds of Body and Mind, of Tongue and Pen? Am I grasping at Money, or Scheming for Power? Am I planning the Illustration of my Family or the Welfare of my Country? These are great Questions. In Truth, I am tossed about so much, from Post to Pillar, that I have not Leisure and Tranquillity enough, to consider distinctly my own Views, Objects and Feelings.— I am mostly intent at present, upon collecting a Library, and I find, that a great deal of Thought, and Care, as well as Money, are necessary to assemble an ample and well chosen Assortment of Books.—But when this is done, it is only a means, an Instrument. When ever I shall have compleated my Library, my End will not be answered. Fame, Fortune, Power say some, are the Ends intended by a Library. The Service of God, Country, Clients, Fellow Men, say others. Which of these lie nearest my Heart? Self Love but serves the virtuous Mind to wake as the small Pebble stirs the Peacefull Lake, The Center Moved, a Circle straight succeeds, another still and still another spreads. Friend, Parent, Neighbour, first it does embrace, our Country next and next all human Race.
I am certain however, that the Course I pursue will neither lead me to Fame, Fortune, Power Nor to the Service of my Friends, Clients or Country. What Plan of Reading or Reflection, or Business can be pursued by a Man, who is now at Pownalborough, then at Marthas Vineyard, next at Boston, then at Taunton, presently at Bamstable, { 338 } then at Concord, now at Salem, then at Cambridge, and afterwards at Worcester. Now at Sessions, then at Pleas, now in Admiralty, now at Superiour Court, then in the Gallery of the House. What a Dissipation must this be? Is it possible to pursue a regular Train of Thinking in this desultory Life?—By no Means.— It is a Life of Here and every where, to use the Expression, that is applyed to Othello, by Desdemona’s Father. Here and there and every where, a rambling, roving, vagrant, vagabond Life. A wandering Life. At Meins Book store, at Bowes’s Shop, at Danas House, at Fitches, Otis’s office, and the Clerks office, in the Court Chamber, in the Gallery, at my own Fire, I am thinking on the same Plan.
1. First entry in “Paper book No. 15” (our D/JA/15), a stitched gathering of leaves which, following the present entry, has a blank leaf and irregular entries from 10 Aug. 1769 to 22 Aug. 1770.
No Diary entries have been found for the period between late May 1767 and the end of Jan. 1768. The most important event in JA’s domestic life during this interval was the birth at Braintree of a son and heir, 11 July 1767, who was, according to JA’s Autobiography, “at the request of his Grandmother Smith christened by the Name of John Quincy on the day of the Death of his Great Grandfather, John Quincy of Mount Wollaston.” After the excitements of the preceding winter, the remainder of the year 1767, at least until the arrival of the new customs commissioners in November, was comparatively quiet politically; at any rate, JA engaged in no further political activity or writing. But as a result of his growing prominence in both Braintree and Boston affairs his legal business expanded remarkably. By piecing together the evidence from his own papers and the Minute Books of the Superior Court, his itinerary during the second half of 1767 may be reconstructed as follows: in July at Plymouth Inferior Court; in August at Suffolk Superior Court; in September at Worcester Superior Court and Bristol Inferior Court; in October at Plymouth Inferior Court and Bristol and Middlesex (Cambridge) Superior Courts; in November at Middlesex (Charlestown) Inferior Court; in December at Barnstable and Plymouth Inferior Courts. Probably this is an incomplete list.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0013-0001-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1769-08-10

Boston August 10. 1769.1

John Tudor Esq. came to me, and for the third Time repeated his Request that I would take his Son William into my Office. I was not fond of the Proposal as I had but 10 days before taken Jona. Williams Austin, for 3 years. At last however I consented and Tudor is to come, tomorrow morning.2
What shall I do with 2 Clerks at a Time? And what will the Bar, and the World say? As to the last I am little solicitous, but my own Honour, Reputation and Conscience, are concerned in doing my best for their Education, and Advancement in the World. For their Advancement I can do little, for their Education, much, if I am not wanting to myself and them.
{ 339 }
1. A gap of a year and a half, indicated by only a single blank page in the MS, separates this entry from the preceding one. But the interval had been a busy one for JA and a critical one in the relations between the Province of Massachusetts Bay and the British government. Soon after the annual Braintree town meeting in March 1768 (at which JA declined to stand again for selectman and was thanked for this services during the past two years), JA and his family moved “into the White House as it was called in Brattle Square,” formerly the residence of William Bollan (JA, Works, 2:210, note; Autobiography). On 28 Dec. his 2d daughter, Susanna, who lived only until 4 Feb. 1770, was born in this house and was baptized on New Year’s Day by Dr. Samuel Cooper at the Brattle Street Church (HA2, John Adams’s Book, Being Notes on a Record of the Births, Marriages and Deaths of Three Generations of the Adams Family, 1734–1807, Boston, 1934, p. 4–5). In the spring of 1769 he “removed to Cole Lane, to Mr. Fayerweathers House,” which he occupied for about a year (second entry of 21 Nov. 1772, below).
Though JA rode the circuit with his usual regularity during these eighteen months (and in Sept. 1768 traveled for the first time as far as Springfield, there meeting Joseph Hawley, with whom he was to form an enduring friendship), his most important cases were related to the current political disputes. One of these was his defense of Michael Corbet and three other sailors in May–June 1769 for the killing of Lt. Panton of the British navy; see entry of 23 Dec. 1769 and note, below. Still more spectacular was his earlier defense, in the winter of 1768–1769, of John Hancock against charges of smuggling. This action in personam grew out of but was distinct from the action in rem concerning Hancock’s sloop Liberty, condemned at the instance of the board of customs commissioners in the summer of 1768. “A painfull Drudgery I had of his cause,” JA wrote in his Autobiography. “There were few days through the whole Winter, when I was not summoned to attend the Court of Admiralty.” JA’s stubborn and successful defense in a trial lasting five months was one of his major accomplishments as a lawyer, but the necessary notes and references concerning it may be deferred to his discussion of it in his Autobiography.
In June 1768 and again in May 1769 JA was named on committees to prepare instructions for the Boston representatives to the General Court, and in both instances it was he who wrote the instructions. The first is mainly a protest against the seizure of the Liberty (Works, 3:501–504). The second is a recital of a series of grievances suffered by the town as the result of the presence of British troops since the preceding autumn, and also from the formidable and growing power of the admiralty courts (same, p. 505–510).
Life was not made up exclusively of drama and drudgery. An entry in John Rowe’s Diary dated 4 Aug. 1769 begins: “fine Weather Din’d at John Champneys on A Pigy with the following Company—John Hancock, James Otis, John Adams,” and thirteen others, including Robert Auchmuty, the admiralty judge (MS, MHi).
2. Jonathan Williams Austin and William Tudor, both of the Harvard class of 1769, were JA’s first law clerks, so far as we currently know. The ordinary term of service was three years, and both these young men were recommended by the bar for admission to practice as attorneys in July 1772 (“Suffolk Bar Book,” MHS, Procs. 1st ser., 19 [1881–1882]:150. Austin was admitted attorney in the Superior Court, Aug. term, 1778, but never became a barrister (Superior Court of Judicature, Minute Book 103). Tudor was admitted to practice in the Superior Court with Austin, served as first judge advocate of the Continental army, became a barrister, Feb. term, 1784, and was a lifelong friend and correspondent of JA.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0013-0001-0002

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1769-08-11

Aug. 11th. 1769. Fryday.

Mr. Tudor came, for the first Time and attended the Office, all { 340 } Day, and paid me £10 St.—In the Morning I went to take View of Mr. Copelys [Copley’s] Pictures, and afterwards to hear News of the Letters arrived in Scott. The Mystery of Iniquity, seems to be unravelled.1
Spent the Evening at Mr. Wm. Coopers, the Dr. came in and was very social.2 He came from a Meeting of the Overseers of the Colledge, at Cambridge, which was called to advise the Corporation to proceed to the Choice of a President.
1. Capt. Scott of the Boston Packet arrived on 10 Aug. and brought “A new Freight of curious Letters of Sir Francis Bernard of Nettleham, Bart. the Commissioners, &c. [ . . . ] which will probably soon be publish’d” (Boston Gazette, 14 Aug. 1769). Bernard had just sailed for England. These letters and papers, furnishing a narrative of the recent “Troubles of this Town” from a government point of view and explaining only too clearly the role of the customs commissioners in bringing the regiments of British troops to Boston, were soon published under the title Letters to the Ministry from Governor Bernard, General Gage, and Commodore Hood, and also Memorials to the Lords of the Treasury, from the Commissioners of the Customs, Boston, 1769.
2. William Cooper, perpetual town clerk of Boston and an active member of the Sons of Liberty, was the older brother of “the Dr.,” i.e. Rev. Samuel Cooper, pastor of the Brattle Street Church (NEHGR, 44 [1890]:156–57).

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0013-0001-0003

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1769-08-12

1769. Aug. 12. Saturday.

Dined at Mr. Isaac Smiths and in the Evening went to Braintree.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0013-0001-0004

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1769-08-13

Aug. 13. Sunday.

At Mr. Quincys.1 Here is Solitude and Retirement. Still, calm, and serene, cool, tranquil, and peaceful. The Cell of the Hermit. Out at one Window, you see Mount Wollaston, the first Seat of our Ancestors, and beyond that Stony field Hill,2 covered over with Corn and fruits.
At the other Window, an Orchard and beyond that the large Marsh called the broad Meadows. From the East Window of the opposite Chamber you see a fine Plain, covered with Corn and beyond that the whole Harbour and all the Islands. From the End Window of the East Chamber, you may see with a prospective Glass, every Ship, Sloop, Schooner, and Brigantine, that comes in, or goes out.
Heard Mr. Wibirt, Upon Resignation and Patience under Afflictions, in Imitation of the ancient Prophets and Apostles, a Sermon calculated for my Uncles family, whose Funeral was attended last Week. In the afternoon Elizabeth Adams the Widow of Micajah Adams lately deceased was baptized, and received into full Communion with the Church.3 She never knew that she was not baptized in her Infancy till since her Husbands Decease, when her Aunt came from Lynn and informed her. Mr. Wibirt prayed, that the Loss of her Husband might be sanctified to her, this she bore with some firmness, but when he { 341 } came to pray that the Loss might be made up to her little fatherless Children, the Tears could no longer be restrained. Then the Congregation sang an Hymn upon Submission under Afflictions to the Tune of the funeral Thought. The whole together was a moving Scene, and left scarcely a dry Eye in the House. After Meeting I went to Coll. Quincys to wait on Mr. Fisk of Salem 79 Year Old.
This Mr. Fisk and his Sister Madam Marsh, the former born in the very Month of the Revolution under Sir Edmund Andros, and the latter 10 Years before that, made a very venerable Appearance.
1. Mount Wollaston Farm on the shore of Quincy Bay, the homestead of Norton Quincy, AA’s uncle.
2. The earliest name for what is now called Presidents Hill. JA later acquired this property and made it part of his homestead farm. In old age he occasionally dated letters from “Stony Field Hill.”
3. Ebenezer, brother of Deacon John Adams, died 6 Aug. 1769; his son Micajah had died 18 July (A. N. Adams, Geneal. Hist. of Henry Adams of Braintree, p. 395, 401).

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0013-0001-0005

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1769-08-14

Monday August 14.

Dined with 350 Sons of Liberty at Robinsons, the Sign of Liberty Tree in Dorchester. We had two Tables laid in the open Field by the Barn, with between 300 and 400 Plates, and an Arning of Sail Cloth overhead, and should have spent a most agreable Day had not the Rain made some Abatement in our Pleasures. Mr. Dickinson the Farmers Brother, and Mr. Reed the Secretary of New Jersey were there, both cool, reserved and guarded all day.1 After Dinner was over and the Toasts drank we were diverted with Mr. Balch’s Mimickry. He gave Us, the Lawyers Head, and the Hunting of a Bitch fox. We had also the Liberty Song—that by the Farmer, and that by Dr. Ch[urc]h, and the whole Company joined in the Chorus. This is cultivating the Sensations of Freedom. There was a large Collection of good Company. Otis and Adams are politick, in promoting these Festivals, for they tinge the Minds of the People, they impregnate them with the sentiments of Liberty. They render the People fond of their Leaders in the Cause, and averse and bitter against all opposers.
To the Honour of the Sons, I did not see one Person intoxicated, or near it.2
Between 4 and 5 O clock, the Carriages were all got ready and the Company rode off in Procession, Mr. Hancock first in his Charriot and another Charriot bringing up the Rear. I took my Leave of the Gentlemen and turned off for Taunton, oated at Doty’s and arrived, long after Dark, at Noices.3 There I put up. I should have been at Taunton if I had not turned back in the Morning from Roxbury—but I felt as if I { 342 } ought not to loose this feast, as if it was my Duty to be there. I am not able to conjecture, of what Consequence it was whether I was there or not.
Jealousies arise from little Causes, and many might suspect, that I was not hearty in the Cause, if I had been absent whereas none of them are more sincere, and stedfast than I am.
1. Philemon Dickinson, younger brother of “Farmer” John Dickinson; and Joseph Reed, who was then practicing law in Trenton, N.J.; see DAB under both names.
2. This was sufficiently remarkable, considering that fourteen toasts were drunk at the Liberty Tree in Boston, followed by forty-five (in honor of John Wilkes’ North Briton, No. 45) at the dinner—all enumerated in the account of the day’s proceedings in the Boston Gazette, 21 Aug. 1769. A list of 355 Sons of Liberty present was compiled by William Palfrey, who was present, and is printed in MHS, Procs. 1st ser., 11 (1869–1870):140.
3. Or Noyes’, in Stoughton.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0013-0001-0006

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1769-08-15

Tuesday. Aug. 15.

Rode to Taunton, 16 miles before 9 O Clock, tho I stopped and breakfasted at Haywards in Easton 9 miles from Taunton. Spent all the Leisure moments I could snatch in Reading a Debate in Parliament, in 1744, upon a Motion to inquire into the Conduct of Admiral Mathews and Vice Admiral Lestock in the Mediterranean, when they had, and neglected so fine an Opportunity of destroying the combined Fleets of France and Spain off Toulon.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0013-0002-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1769-09-02

1769. Septr. 2. Saturday Night.

Tho this Book has been in my Pocket, this fortnight, I have been too slothfull, to make Use of it.
Dined at Mr. Smiths. Heard that Messrs. Otis and Adams went Yesterday to Concert Hall, and there had each of them a Conference with each of the Commissioners, and that all the Commissioners met Mr. Otis, this Morning at 6 O Clock at the British Coffee House. The Cause, and End of these Conferences, are Subjects of much Speculation in Town.1
1. If intended to prevent violence, the conferences failed, for on 5 Sept. Commissioner John Robinson, aided by others, assaulted James Otis at the British Coffee House, leading to a long lawsuit in which JA acted as one of Otis’ counsel. See Boston Gazette, 11 Sept. 1769; Tudor, James Otis, p. 360–366, 503–506; entries of 2527 July 1771, below. The most recent and authoritative discussion of the Robinson-Otis affair is in Mr. Shipton’s biography of Otis, Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 11:247–287.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0013-0002-0002

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1769-09-03

Sept. 3d. Sunday.

Heard Dr. Cooper in the forenoon, Mr. Champion of Connecticutt { 343 } in the Afternoon and Mr. Pemberton in the Evening at the Charity Lecture. Spent the Remainder of the Evening and supped with Mr. Otis, in Company with Mr. Adams, Mr. Wm. Davis, and Mr. Jno. Gill. The Evening spent in preparing for the Next Days Newspaper—a curious Employment. Cooking up Paragraphs, Articles, Occurences, &c.—working the political Engine!1 Otis talks all. He grows the most talkative Man alive. No other Gentleman in Company can find a Space to put in a Word—as Dr. Swift expressed it, he leaves no Elbow Room. There is much Sense, Knowledge, Spirit and Humour in his Conversation. But he grows narrative, like an old Man. Abounds with Stories.
1. One of the pieces thus cooked up led directly to the assault on Otis on the 5th, though that piece was signed by Otis himself, and there is nothing in the Boston Gazette of 4 Sept. that clearly reveals JA’s hand.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0013-0002-0003

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1769-09-04

Monday [4 September].

Spent the Evening at Dr. Peckers, with the Clubb. Mr. Otis introduced a Stranger, a Gentleman from Georgia, recommended to him by the late Speaker of the House in that Province. Otis indulged himself in all his Airs. Attacked the Aldermen, Inches and Pemberton, for not calling a Town meeting to consider the Letters of the Governor, General, Commodore, Commissioners, Collector, Comptroller &c.— charged them with Timidity, Haughtiness, Arbitrary Dispositions, and Insolence of Office. But not the least Attention did he shew to his Friend the Georgian.—No Questions concerning his Province, their Measures against the Revenue Acts, their Growth, Manufactures, Husbandry, Commerce—No general Conversation, concerning the Continental Opposition—Nothing, but one continued Scene of bullying, bantering, reproaching and ridiculing the Select Men.—Airs and Vapours about his Moderatorship, and Membership, and Cushings Speakership.—There is no Politeness nor Delicacy, no Learning nor Ingenuity, no Taste or Sense in this Kind of Conversation.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0013-0002-0004

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1769-09-06

Wednesday. Septr. 6. 1769.

Mr. Cudworth told me on the Town house Steps, that Mr. Charles Paxton, the Commissioner, told him this day, that it was possible, he might be sent with some Proscess on board a Man of War, and he advised him, as a friend not to attempt to take any Man from on Board the Man of War; for you have no Right to, and if you attempt it, you’l never come away alive—and I want to see Otis the D[eputy] Sherriff1 to give him the same Advice.—Cudworth told this to Otis in my Hear• { 344 } ing, and Otis went directly to Mr. Paxtons as I since hear, and Mr. Paxton gave him the same Advice.2
1. Joseph Otis and Benjamin Cudworth were both deputy sheriffs of Suffolk co.
2. The passage is ambiguously punctuated, but it was clearly Paxton who warned Cudworth and wanted to warn Otis—and did so.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0013-0003-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1769-10-19

1769. Octr. 19th. Thurdsday.

Last night I spent the Evening, at the House of John Williams Esqr. the Revenue officer, in Company with Mr. Otis, Jona. Williams Esqr. and Mr. McDaniel a Scotch Gentleman, who has some Connection with the Commissioners, as Clerk, or something. Williams is as sly, secret and cunning a fellow, as need be. The Turn of his Eye, and Cast of his Countenance, is like Thayer of Braintree. In the Course of the Evening He said, that He knew that Lord Townsend borrowed Money of Paxton, when in America, to the amount of £500 st. at least that is not paid yet. He also said, in the Course of the Evening, that if he had drank a Glass of Wine, that came out of a seizure, he would take a Puke to throw it up. He had such a Contempt for the 3ds. of Seisures. He affects to speak slightly of the Commissioners and of their Conduct, tho guardedly, and to insinuate that his Connections, and Interest and Influence at Home with the Boards &c. are greater than theirs.
McDaniel is a composed, grave, steady Man to appearance, but his Eye has it’s fire, still, if you view it attentively.—Otis bore his Part very well, conversible eno, but not extravagant, not rough, nor soure.
The morning at Bracketts upon the Case of the Whale.1 The afternoon at the office posting Books.
1. Joseph Doane v. Lot Gage, a protracted suit between two whalemen tried in the Court of Vice-Admiralty. Doane had sunk the first iron, but Gage had taken the whale. The question was whether Doane had been “fast” when Gage struck; if so, Doane was entitled to a one-eighth share of the value of the whale. JA represented Doane. Among his legal papers is a series of graphic depositions as well as notes for his own argument and those of the opposing counsel, Paine and Otis (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 184).

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0013-0003-0002

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1769-10-24

1769. Octr. 24th.

Sunday last I rode to Braintree in the Morning, and heard Mr. Gay, of Hingham forenoon and afternoon, upon those Words in the Proverbs “The hoary Head is a Crown of Glory if it be found in the Way of Righteousness.”—The good old Gentleman had been to the Funeral of his aged Brother at Dedham, and seemed to be very much affected. He said in his Prayer, that God in the Course of his Providence was admonishing him that he must very soon put off this Tabernacle, and { 345 } prayed that the Dispensation might be sanctified to him—and he told the People in the Introduction to his Sermon, that this would probably be the last Exhortation they would ever hear from him their old Acquaintance.—I have not heard a more affecting, or more rational Entertainment on any Sabbath for many Years.
Dined with my Friend and Uncle Mr. Quincy, and returned after Meeting to Boston.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0013-0004-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1769-11

November 1769.

Saturday after attending Court in the Morning, I dined by particular Invitation at Mr. Winthrops the Clerk of the Superior Court with all the Bar, Messrs. Dana, Kent, Otis, Fitch, Reed, S. Quincy, B. Gridley, Cazneau,1 Blowers.
Otis, B. Gridley, Kent, and S. Quincy, were the principal Talkers. Otis talked the most, B. Gridley next, Kent the next and S. Quincy, next. The rest of the Company said very little.
B. Gridley told us a Story of his Uncle Jeremiah the late Head of the Bar. “When I was a school Boy, at Master Lovells, Mr. Gridley my Uncle used to make me call at his Office, sometimes, to repeat my Lesson to him. I called there one Day for that Purpose.—Well, Ben! What have you to say, Ben? says he.—I am come to say my Lesson sir to you, says I.—Ay? Ben? what Book have you there? under your Arm?— Virgil sir.—Ay! Ben? Is that the Poet, Virgil?—Yes sir.—Well Ben, take it and read to me Ben. Read in the Beginning of the Aeneids Ben.— Yes sir.—So I opened my Book and began.
Arma, Virumque Cāno, Trojae, qui primus ab oris.
Arma, Virumque cāno! Ben! you Blockhead!—does John Lovell teach you to read so—read again.—So I began, again.
Arma Virumque cāno.—Cāno you Villain, canō—and gave me a tremendous Box on the Ear.—Arma Virumque canō, you Blockhead, is the true Reading.
Thinks I, what is this—I have Blockheading and boxing enough at Master Lovells, I wont have it repeated hear, and in a great Passion I threw the Virgil at his Head, hit him in the Face, and bruised his Lip, and ran away.
Ben! Ben! You Blockhead! You Villain, you Rascall, Ben!—
However away I went, and went home.
That evening, Uncle Jeremy came to our House, and sat down with my father.
Brother, I have something to say to you about that young Rogue of { 346 } a son of yours, that Ben. He came to my Office, and I bid him read a Line in Virgil and he read it wrong and I box’d him, and he threw his Virgil in my face, and wounded me, he bruised me in my Lip—here is the Mark of it! You must lick him, you must thresh him Brother!
I was all this Time a listening, and heard my father justify me.—Ben did right says he—you had no Right to box him, you was not his Master and if he read wrong you should have taught him how to read right—not have boxed him.
Ay? Then I find you justify the Rogue.—Yes says father I think he did right.—Ay then you wont thresh him for it will you?—No I think he ought not to be threshed, I think you ought not to have box’d him.
What, justify the young Villain, in throwing his Book at me, and wounding me in this Manner?
About 2 or 3 Evenings Afterwards, Uncle Jeremy was at Clubb with Jo. Green, and John Lovell and others, and began, with great solemnity and sobriety—Jo.? What shall I do, two or three days ago, I was guilty of a bad Action and I dont know how to repair it. I boxed a little boy a Nephew of mine very unrighteously, and he is so little, so mere a Child that I cant ask his Pardon—and so in solemn Sadness told the whole Story to the Clubb.”2
Whether there is any Truth in any Part of this Story or not I cant say. But if it is mere fiction, there are certainly strong Marks of Ingenuity, in the Invention. The Pride, Obstinacy, and Sauciness of Ben, are remembered in Ben, in the Circumstance of throwing the Virgil. The same Temper in his father is preserved in the Circumstance of his justifying it. The Suddenness, and Imperiousness of Jeremiah, in the Boxing, and his real Integrity, Candor, Benevolence, and good Nature in repenting of it at Clubb, and wishing to make Reparation.
B. Gridley, after this, gave us another Story of Coll. Byfield, and his marrying a Sailor which occasioned a great Laugh.
Upon the whole this same Ben. Gridley discovered a Capacity, a Genius—real Sentiment, Fancy, Wit, Humour, Judgment, and Observation. Yet he seems to be totally lost to the World. He has no Business of any Kind, lays abed till 10 ’O Clock, drinks, laughs and frolicks, but, neither studies, nor practices, in his Profession.
Otis spent almost all the Afternoon in telling 2 stories, one of Gridleys offending the Suffolk Inferior Court, in the Dispute about introducing Demurrers, and of his making the Amende Honorable, making Concessions, &c. before that contemptible Tribunal—and another about a Conversation between Pratt, Kent and him. Kents asking { 347 } the Question, what is the chief End of Man? and Pratts Answer to provide food &c. for other Animals, Cabbage Lice among the rest.
Before Dinner Kent proposed his Project of an Act of Parliament against Devils, like to that against Witches.
Otis catched at it, and proposed the Draught of a Bill.—Be it enacted &c—that whereas many of the subjects of this Realm, have heretofore time out of Mind believed in certain imaginary Beings called Devils, therefore be it enacted, that no one shall mention the Devil, hereafter, &c, on Pain of high Treason, &c.
Thus are Mens Brains eternally at work according to the Proclamation of K[ing] James.
I dont think the World can furnish a more curious Collection of Characters than those that made up this Company—Otis, Kent, Dana, Gridley, Fitch, Winthrop, &c.
1. Andrew Cazneau of Boston; admitted attorney in the Superior Court, 1765, and barrister, 1767; afterward a loyalist (Superior Court of Judicature, Minute Books 82, 85; Jones, Loyalists of Mass., p. 78–79).
2. The dialogue in young Gridley’s anecdote was punctuated by JA more erratically than was usual even for him, and in the interest of clarity the punctuation has been slightly regularized by the editors.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0013-0005-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1769-12-23

1769. Decr. 23. Saturday Night.

At my Office reading Sidney. I have been musing this evening upon a Report of the Case of the 4. Sailors, who were tryed last June, before the Special Court of Admiralty, for killing Lt. Panton. A Publication only of the Record, I mean the Articles, Plea to the Jurisdiction, Testimonies of Witnesses, &c. would be of great Utility. The Arguments which were used, are scarcely worth publishing. Those which might be used, would be well worth the Perusal of the Public. A great Variety of useful Learning might be brought into an History of that Case—and the great Curiosity of the World after the Case, would make it sell. I have half a Mind to undertake it.
The great Questions, concerning the Right of Juries in the Colonies, upon a Comparison of the 3 Statutes, and concerning the Right of impressing Seamen for his Majestys Service, whether with or without Warrants from the Lords of the Admiralty upon orders of the K[ing] in Council, are very important. Such a Pamphlet might suggest alterations in the Statutes, and might possibly procure us for the future the Benefit of Juries in such Cases. And the World ought to know, at least the American part of it, more than it does, of the true foundation of Impresses, if they have any.1
{ 348 }
1. This project was unfortunately not carried out, though the materials for it in JA’s papers were (and still are) ample and important. Early in May 1769 Michael Corbet (whose name is variously spelled in the records) and three other sailors on the Pitt Packet of Marblehead resisted impressment when Lt. Henry Gibson Panton of the British frigate Rose boarded their vessel off Marblehead. From the forepeak they warned Panton that if he stepped toward them he was a dead man. Panton took a pinch of snuff and started for them with several armed companions. The next moment a harpoon severed Panton’s jugular vein. A special court of admiralty was promptly held to try the case. Otis and JA, counsel for the sailors, moved first to obtain a jury trial but were thwarted by Hutchinson’s influence with his fellow judges, among whom were Governors Bernard and Wentworth and Commodore Hood. The most telling point in JA’s argument was his citation of the statute 6 Anne, ch. 37, sect. 9, which prohibited impressments in America. The verdict was that the sailors had killed Panton in self-defense. JA’s brief is printed in an appendix to his Works, 2:526–534. His record of the testimony and of the argument of the crown lawyer, Samuel Fitch, are appended to a long article by BA on “The Convention of 1800 with France,” MHS, Procs. 44 (1910–1911) 1429–452. (The MSS are in the Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 184). Since the issues involved were so often of concern to JA in later life, he frequently discussed the case, and as usual with varying details. See especially his letters to JQA, 8 Jan. 1808 (printed by BA in the article cited above, p. 422–428); to Jedidiah Morse, 20 Jan. 1816 (Works, 10:204–210); and to William Tudor, 30 Dec. 1816 (same, 2:224, note). Hutchinson’s account, with his explanation of the conduct of the trial, is in his Massachusetts Bay, ed. Mayo, 3:166–167. The chronology of the case is well set forth in the “Journal of the Times” as reprinted by Oliver M. Dickerson in Boston under Military Rule, 1768–1769, Boston, 1936, p. 94–95, 104, 110.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0014-0001-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1770-01-16

1770 January 16.

At my Office all Day.
Last Evening at Dr. Peckers with the Clubb.—Otis is in Confusion yet. He looses himself. He rambles and wanders like a Ship without an Helm. Attempted to tell a Story which took up almost all the Evening. The Story may at any Time be told in 3 minutes with all the Graces it is capable of, but he took an Hour. I fear he is not in his perfect Mind. The Nervous, Concise, and pithy were his Character, till lately. Now the verbose, roundabout and rambling, and long winded. He once said He hoped he should never see T.H. in Heaven. Dan. Waldo took offence at it, and made a serious Affair of it, said Otis very often bordered upon Prophaneness, if he was not strictly profane. Otis said, if he did see H. there he hoped it would be behind the Door.—In my fathers House are many Mansions, some more and some less honourable.
In one Word, Otis will spoil the Clubb. He talkes so much and takes up so much of our Time, and fills it with Trash, Obsceneness, Profaneness, Nonsense and Distraction, that We have no [time]1 left for rational Amusements or Enquiries.
{ 349 }
He mentioned his Wife—said she was a good Wife, too good for him—but she was a tory, an high Tory. She gave him such Curtain Lectures, &c.2
In short, I never saw such an Object of Admiration, Reverence, Contempt and Compassion all at once as this. I fear, I tremble, I mourn for the Man, and for his Country. Many others mourne over him with Tears in their Eyes.
1. Word omitted by the diarist.
2. On Ruth (Cunningham) Otis, see Tudor, James Otis, p. 19–21.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0014-0001-0002

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1770-01

[Draft of a Newspaper Communication, January? 1770.]1

[epigraph]
“If I would but go to Hell for an eternal Moment or so, I might be knighted.”
Governor Winthrop to the Inhabitants of New England.
My dear Children—
You may well imagine, that no Lapse of Time, nor any Change whatever can render me totally inattentive or indifferent to your Interests. They are always near my Heart. I am as anxious as ever for your Welfare and as studious to avert the most distant Calamity that threatens or can befall you.
Your present Danger arises wholly from that general Cause of the Ruin of Mankind I mean Ambition. Your Agrarian Laws, and your frame of Government, are much better callculated than most others to oppose, to disarm, and restrain this fell Distroyer.
But, as no Government can possibly be contrived or conceived that shall wholly eradicate this Passion from human Nature, so yours is very far from being the best that can be conceived from [for?] preventing its ill Effects.
1. Obviously incomplete as it stands, and no printing has been found. Other apparently related fragments will be found under Aug.? 1770 and 9 Feb. 1772, below.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0014-0002-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1770-02-26

1770. Monday Feby. 26. or Thereabouts.

Rode from Weymouth. Stoppd at my House, Veseys Blacksmith shop, my Brothers, my Mothers, and Robinsons.
These 5 Stops took up the day. When I came into Town, I saw a vast Collection of People, near Liberty Tree—enquired and found the funeral of the Child, lately kil’d by Richardson was to be attended. Went into Mr. Rowes, and wanned me, and then went out with him to the Funeral, a vast Number of Boys walked before the Coffin, a vast { 350 } Number of Women and Men after it, and a Number of Carriages. My Eyes never beheld such a funeral. The Procession extended further than can be well imagined.
This Shewes, there are many more Lives to spend if wanted in the Service of their Country.
It Shews, too that the Faction is not yet expiring—that the Ardor of the People is not to be quelled by the Slaughter of one Child and the Wounding of another.1
At Clubb this Evening, Mr. Scott and Mr. Cushing gave us a most alarming Account of O[tis]. He has been this afternoon raving Mad-raving vs. Father, Wife, Brother, Sister, Friend &c.2
1. “Feb. 26. This afternoon the Boy that was killed by Richardson was buried. I am very sure two thousand people attended his Funerall” (Rowe, Letters and Diary, p. 197). The Boston Gazette of 5 March devoted half a column to these obsequies. The “Child” was Christopher Snider, eleven or twelve years old, who had been shot and killed by Ebenezer Richardson, an employee of the customs, on 22 Feb., when taunted in his house by a group of boys after a demonstration against a merchant known to have violated the nonimportation agreement. On April 20–21 Richardson and another customs man present at the shooting, George Wilmot, were indicted and tried for murder in Suffolk Superior Court. Wilmot was acquitted; Richardson was found guilty but was pardoned by the King. The affair was a dramatic prelude to the “Boston Massacre.” See Boston Gazette, 26 Feb. 1770; Superior Court of Judicature, Minute Book 91; Hutchinson, Massachusetts Bay, ed. Mayo, 3:193–194, 206 and note; Oliver M. Dickerson, “The Commissioners of Customs and the ’Boston Massacre,’” NEQ, 27:310–312 (Sept. 1954). A copy of the defense counsel’s argument, in an unidentified hand but docketed by JA, is in the Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 185. Robert Treat Paine acted for the crown (Paine, “Minutes of Law Cases, 1760–1774,” MS, MHi).
2. Inserted loose in the MS at this point is a receipted bill to JA from M. Cooke in the amount of £11 2s., for copying seventeen cases, here listed, for “March C[our]t 1770.”

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0014-0003-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1770-06-19

Ipswich June 19. 1770. Tuesday Morning.1

Rambled with Kent, round Landlord Treadwells Pastures, to see how our Horses fared. We found them in Grass, up to their Eyes. Excellent Pastures. This Hill on which stand the Meeting House and Court House, is a fine Elevation and We have here a fine Air, and the pleasant Prospect of the winding River, at the foot of the Hill.
1. Preceding this entry is a gap of nearly four months in the Diary record, with no space left for it in the MS. Accordingly there is no strictly contemporary mention by JA of the episode known as the Boston Massacre, in the consequences of which he was to be so deeply involved, though in his Autobiography he gave an account of what he did and saw on the evening of 5 March and of the circumstances under which he agreed, next day, to defend Capt. Thomas Preston.
On 6 June JA was elected a delegate to the General Court from Boston in the room of James Bowdoin, who had been elected to the Council. He was at once caught up in the bitter and protracted { 351 } dispute between the legislature and Lt. Gov. Hutchinson over the meeting-place of the General Court; see the House Journal for this year, passim. From June 1770 to April 1771, his single term as a member of the House, JA’s name, as CFA remarked, “appears upon almost every important committee” (JA, Works, 1:109). An impressive tabulation of these committee assignments will be found in a long note in the same, 2:233–236.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0014-0003-0002

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1770-06-25

June 25. 1770. Boston.

Blowers. In the Reign of Richard the 2d. or Henry 6th. you may find Precedents for any Thing.
This Observation was echoed from some Tory, who applyed it to a late Quotation of the House of Representatives. It is true, Richard 2d. and H. 6. were weak and worthless Princes, and their Parliaments were bold and resolute, but weak Princes may arise hereafter, and then there will be need of daring and determined Parliaments. The Reigns of R. 2. and H. 6 were the Reigns of Evil Councillors and Favourites, and they exhibit notable Examples, of the public Mischiefs, arising from such Administrations, and of national and parliamentary Vengeance, on such wicked Minions.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0014-0003-0003

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1770-06-26

June 26.

Last of Service; very little Business this Court. The Bar and the Clerks universally complain of the Scarcity of Business. So little was perhaps never known, at July Term. The Cause must be the Non Importation agreement, and the Declension of Trade. So that the Lawyers loose as much by this Patriotic Measure as the Merchants, and Tradesmen.
Stephens the Connecticutt Hemp Man was at my Office, with Mr. Counsellor Powell and Mr. Kent. Stephens says that the whole Colony of Connecticutt has given more implicit Observance to a Letter from the Select Men of Boston than to their Bibles for some Years. And that in Consequence of it, the Country is vastly happier, than it was, for every Family has become a little manufactory House, and they raise and make within themselves, many Things, for which they used to run in debt to the Merchants and Traders. So that No Body is hurt but Boston, and the Maritime Towns.—I wish there was a Tax of 5s. st. on every Button, from England. It would be vastly for the good of this Country, &c. As to all the Bustle and Bombast about Tea, it has been begun by about 1/2 doz. Hollands Tea Smugglers, who could not find so much Profit in their Trade, since the Nine Pence was taken off in England.—Thus He. Some Sense and some Nonsense!

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0014-0003-0004

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1770-06-27

June 27. Wednesday Morn.

Very fine—likely to be hot—at my Office early. The only Way to compose myself and collect my Thoughts is to set down at my Table, place my Diary before me, and take my Pen into my Hand. This Apparatus takes off my Attention from other Objects. Pen, Ink and Paper and a sitting Posture, are great Helps to Attention and thinking.
Took an Airing in the Chaise with my Brother Sam. Adams, who returned and dined with me. He says he never looked forward in his Life, never planned, laid a scheme, or formed a design of laying up any Thing for himself or others after him. I told him, I could not say that of myself, if that had been true of me, you would never have seen my Face—and I think this was true. I was necessitated to ponder in my Youth, to consider of Ways and Means of raising a Subsistence, food and Rayment, and Books and Money to pay for my Education to the Bar. So that I must have sunk into total Contempt and Obscurity, if not perished for Want, if I had not planned for futurity. And it is no Damage to a young Man to learn the Art of living, early, if it is at the Expence of much musing and pondering and Anxiety.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0014-0003-0005

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1770-06-28

June 28. Thursday.

Mr. Goldthwait. Do you call tomorrow and dine with Us at flax Pond near Salem. Rowe, Davis, Brattle and half a dozen, as clever fellows as ever were born, are to dine there under the shady Trees, by the Pond, upon fish, and Bacon and Pees &c. and as to the Madeira, nothing can come up to it. Do you call. We’ll give a genteell Dinner and fix you off on your Journey.1
Rumours of Ships and Troops, a Fleet and an Army, 10 Regiments and a No. of line of Battle Ships, were talked of to day.
If an Armament should come, what will be done by the People? Will they oppose them?
“If, by supporting the Rights of Mankind, and of invincible Truth, I shall contribute to save from the Agonies of Death one unfortunate Victim of Tyranny, or of Ignorance, equally fatal; his Blessing and Tears of Transport, will be a sufficient Consolation to me, for the Contempt of all Mankind.” Essay on Crimes and Punishments. Page 42.2
I have received such Blessings and enjoyed such Tears of Transport— and there is no greater Pleasure, or Consolation! Journeying to Plymouth at a Tavern, I found a Man, who either knew me before, or by enquiring of some Person then present, discovered who I was. He { 353 } went out and saddled my Horse and bridled him, and held the Stirrup while I mounted. Mr. Adams says he, as a Man of Liberty, I respect you. God bless you! Tie stand by you, while I live, and from hence to Cape Cod you wont find 10 Men amiss.—A few Years ago, a Person arrained for a Rape at Worcester, named me to the Court for his Council. I was appointed, and the Man was acquitted, but remanded in order to be tryed on another Indictment for an assault with Intention to ravish. When he had returned to Prison, he broke out of his own Accord—God bless Mr. Adams. God bless his Soul I am not to be hanged, and I dont care what else they do to me.—Here was his Blessing and his Transport which gave me more Pleasure, when I first heard die Relation and when I have recollected it since, than any fee would have done. This was a worthless fellow, but nihil humanum, alienum. His Joy, which I had in some Sense been instrumental in procuring, and his Blessings and good Wishes, occasioned very agreable Emotions in the Heart.3
This afternoon Mr. Wm. Frobisher gave me a Narration of his Services to the Province, in introducing the Manufacture of Pot ashes and Pearl ashes, and of his unsuccessful Petitions to the General Court for a Compensation. He says he has suffered in his fortune, by his Labours and Expences, and has been instrumental of introducing and establishing the Manufacture And can obtain nothing. That £25,000 st. worth of Potashes have been exported from this Town, yearly for 5 Years past, and more than that Quantity for the last two Years as appears by the Custom House Books, and Mr. Sheaff the Collector was his Informer. That He has invented a Method of making Potashes, in much greater Quantity, and better Quality, than heretofore has been done, from the same materials, without any Augmentation of Expence. That he went to Hingham and worked with Mr. Lincoln a month, and has a Certificate from him, to the foregoing Purpose. That his new Method seperates from the Potash, a neutral Salt that is very pure and of valuable Use in medicine, &c. and that if his Method was adopted, no Russian Potash would sell at any Markett where American, was to be had.—Thus Projectors, ever restless.
1. John Rowe describes this convivial gathering in his MS Diary (MHi) under date of 29 June. JA declined to attend.
2. By Cesare, Marchese di Beccaria; first published, in Italian, in 1764. JA was probably using the English translation published in London, 1770. His own copy of Beccaria’s Dei delitti e delle pene was bought in Paris in 1780 and is among his books in the Boston Public Library. He was to use this passage from Beccaria in opening his defense of Capt. Preston in October (Frederic Kidder, History of the Boston Massacre. . . , Albany, 1870, p. 232).
3. This case was doubtless that of Rex v. Samuel Quinn, Worcester Superior Court, Sept. term, 1768. After being { 354 } adjudged not guilty of the rape of Agnis Brooks, Quinn pleaded guilty to a charge of assault with intent to ravish. “And the Court having considered his offense Order that the sd. Samuel Quinn be set upon the Gallows for the space of one hour that he be whipt thirty Stripes upon his bare Back viz ten stripes under the gallows and ten stripes in two other public places, that he suffer twelve months imprisonment, and that he pay costs of prosecution standing committed until the Sentence shall be performed” (Superior Court of Judicature, Minute Book 83).

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0014-0003-0006

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1770-06-29

June 29. 1770. Fryday.

Began my Journey to Falmouth in Casco Bay. Baited my Horse at Martins in Lynn, where I saw T. Fletcher and his Wife, Mr. French &c. Dined at Goodhues in Salem, where I fell in Company with a Stranger, his Name I know not. He made a Genteell Appearance, was in a Chair himself with a Negro Servant. Seemed to have a general Knowledge of American Affairs, said he had been a Merchant in London, had been at Maryland, Phyladelphia, New York &c. One Year more he said would make Americans as quiet as Lambs. They could not do without Great Britain, they could not conquer their Luxury &c.
Oated my Horse and drank baume Tea at Treadwells in Ipswich, where I found Brother Porter and chatted with him 1/2 Hour, then rode to Rowley and lodged at Captn. Jewitts.—Jewitt had rather the House should sit all the Year round, than give up an Atom of Right or Priviledge.—The Governor cant frighten the People, with &c—

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0014-0003-0007

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1770-06-30

June 30th. 1770. Saturday.

Arose not very early and drank a Pint of new Milk and set off. Oated my Horse at Newbury. Rode to Clarks at Greenland Meeting house, where I gave him Hay and Oats, and then set off for Newington. Turned in at a Gate by Colonel March’s, and passed thro two Gates more before I came into the Road that carried me to my Uncles.1 I found the old Gentleman in his 82d. Year, as hearty and alert as ever, his Son and daughter, well—their Children grown up, and every Thing strange to me. I find I had forgot the Place. It is 17 Years I presume since I was there. My Reception was friendly, cordial, and hospitable, as I could wish. Took a chearfull, agreable Dinner, and then Sat off for York, over Bloody Point Ferry, a Way I never went before, and arrived at Woodbridges 1/2 Hour after Sunset.
I have had a very unsentimental Journey, excepting this day at Dinner Time. Have been unfortunate eno, to ride alone all the Way, and have met with very few Characters or Adventures.
Soon after I alighted at Woodbridges in York, Mr. Winthrop, Mr. { 355 } Sewall and Mr. Farnum, returned from an Excursion they had made to Agamentacus, on a Party of Pleasure. It is the highest Mountain in this Part of the World, seen first by Sailors coming in from sea. It is in the Town of York, about 7 miles from the Court House. The Talk much, this Evening, of erecting [a] Beacon upon it.
I forgot Yesterday to mention, that I stopped and enquired the Name of a Pond, in Wenham, which I found was Wenham Pond, and also the Name of a remarkable little Hill at the mouth of the Pond, which resembles a high Loaf of our Country brown Bread, and found that it is called Peters’s Hill to this day, from the famous Hugh Peters, who about the Year 1640 or before, preached from the Top of that Hillock, to the People who congregated round the Sides of it, without any Shelter for the Hearers, before any Buildings were erected, for public Worship.
By accidentally taking this new rout, I have avoided Portsmouth and my old Friend the Governor of it.2 But I must make my Compliments to him, as I return. It is a Duty. He is my Friend And I am his. I should have seen enough of the Pomps and Vanities and Ceremonies of that little World, Portsmouth If I had gone there, but Formalities and Ceremonies are an abomination in my sight. I hate them, in Religion, Government, Science, Life.
1. Joseph Adams, elder brother of Deacon John Adams; Harvard 1710. He was minister at Newington, N.H., for so many years that he became known as “the Bishop of Newington” (MHS, Colls., 5th ser., 2 [1877]:212).
2. JA’s Harvard classmate John Wentworth.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0014-0004-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1770-07-01

July 1st. 1770. Sunday.

Arose early at Paul Dudley Woodbridge’s. A cloudy morning. Took a Walk to the Pasture, to see how my Horse fared. Saw my old Friend and Classmate David Sewall walking in his Garden. My little mare had provided for herself by leaping out of a bare Pasture into a neighbouring Lott of mowing Ground, and had filled herself, with Grass and Water. These are important Materials for History no doubt. My Biographer will scarcely introduce my little Mare, and her Adventures in quest of Feed and Water.
The Children of the House have got a young Crow, a Sight I never saw before. The Head and Bill are monstrous, the leggs and Clawes are long and sprawling. But the young Crow and the little mare are objects, that will not interest Posterity.
Landlord says David Sewall is not of the Liberty Side. The Moultons, Lymans, and Sewalls, and Sayward, are all of the Prerogative { 356 } Side.—They are afraid of their Commissions—and rather than hazard them, they would ruin the Country. We had a fair Tryal of them when we met to return Thanks to the 92 Antirescinders.1 None of them voted for it, tho none of them, but Sayward and his Bookkeeper had Courage enough to hold up his Hand, when the Vote was put the Contrary Way.
This same Landlord I find is a high Son. He has upon his Sign Board, Entertainment for the Sons of Liberty, under the Portrait of Mr. Pitt.—Thus the Spirit of Liberty circulates thro every minute Artery of the Province.
Heard Mr. Lyman all day. They have 4 deacons and Three Elders in this Church. Bradbury2 is an Elder, and Sayward is a Deacon. Lyman preached from “which Things the Angells desire to look into.”
Drank Coffee at home, with Mr. Farnum, who came in to see me, and then went to D. Sewalls where I spent an Hour, with Farnum, Winthrop and Sewall and when I came away took a View of the Comet, which was then near the North Star—a large, bright Nucleus, in the Center of a nebulous Circle.
Came home, and took a Pipe after Supper with Landlord who is a staunch, zealous Son of Liberty. He speaks doubtfully of the new Councillor Gowing [Gowen] of Kittery. Says he always runs away till he sees how a Thing will go. Says he will lean to the other Side. Says, that He, (the Landlord) loves Peace, And should be very glad to have the Matter settled upon friendly Terms, without Bloodshed, but he would venture his own Life, and spend all he had in the World before he would give up.
He gives a sad Account of the Opposition and Persecution he has suffered from the Tories, for his Zeal and Firmness against their Schemes. Says they, i.e. the Moultons, Sewalls and Lymans, contrived every Way to thwart, vex, and distress him, and have got 1000 stferling] from him at least, but he says that Providence has seemed to frown upon them, one running distracted and another &c, and has favoured him in Ways that he did not foresee.
1. “Those members of the General Court who refused [30 June 1768] to rescind the resolution of the preceding House, directing a circular letter [11 Feb. 1768] to be sent to the several assemblies on the continent. This had given so great offence to the government at home, that it demanded some act of recantation. The vote stood ninety-two against, and seventeen for, rescinding” (note by CFA on this passage, JA, Works, 2:243). The text of the circular, which proposed that “constitutional measures” be taken by each of the colonies against the Townsnend Revenue Act of 1767, is in Mass., Speeches of the Governors, &c., 1765–1775, p. 134–136. The names of the seventeen rescinders are recorded in Rowe, Letters and Diary, p. 167–168. One was Jonathan Sayward of York.
{ 357 }
2. John Bradbury, sometime member of the General Court and of the Council; not to be confused with his relative Theophilus, Harvard 1757, called “Brother Bradbury” by JA, a young lawyer of Falmouth (now Portland); see William B. Lapham, Bradbury Memorial ... , Portland, 1890, passim; and below, vol. 2:40, 41, 43, 62.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0014-0004-0002

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1770-07-02

July 2. 1770.

Monday morning, in my Sulky before 5 o clock, Mr. Winthrop, Farnum and D. Sewall, with me on Horse back. Rode thro the Woods the Tide being too high to go over the Beach and to cross Cape Nittick [Neddick] River. Came to Littlefields in Wells 1/4 before 8 o clock. Stopped there and breakfasted. Afterwards Sewall and I stopped at the Door of our Classmate Hemenway, whom we found well, and very friendly, complaisant and hospitable, invited us to alight, to stop on our Return, and take a bed with him, and he enquired of me, where I lived in Boston. Said he would make it his Business to come and see me &c. Rode to Pattens of Arundel, and Mr. Winthrop and I turned our Horses into a little Close to roll and cool themselves and feed upon white honey suckle. Farnum and Sewal are gone forward to James Sullivans1 to get Dinner ready.
Stopped at James Sullivans at Biddeford, and drank Punch, dined at Allens a Tavern at the Bridge. After Dinner Farnham, Winthrop, Sewall, Sullivan and I walked 1/4 of a mile down the River to see one []2 Poke, a Woman, at least 110 Years of age, some say 115. When we came to the House, nobody was at home but the old Woman and she lay in Bed asleep under the Window. We looked in at the Window, and saw an Object of Horror. Strong Muscles, withered and wrinkled to a Degree, that I never saw before.
After some Time her daughter came from a Neighbours House and we went in. The old Woman roused herself and looked round, very composedly upon Us, without saying a Word. The Daughter told her, “here is a Number of Gentlemen come to see you.” Gentlemen, says the old antedeluvian, I am glad to see them. I want them to pray for me—my Prayers I fear are not answered. I used to think my Prayers were answered, but of late I think they are not I have been praying so long for deliverance. Oh living God, come in Mercy! Lord Jesus come in Mercy! Sweet Christ come in Mercy. I used to have comfort in God and set a good Example, but I fear—&c.
Her Mouth were full of large rugged Teeth, and her daughter says, since she was 100 Years old she had two new double Teeth come out. Her Hair is white as Snow, but there is a large Quantity of it on her Head. Her Arms are nothing but Bones covered over with a withered, { 358 } wrinkled, Skin and Nerves. In short any Person will be convinced from the sight of her that she is as old as they say at least. She told us she was born in Ireland, within a Mile of Derry, came here in the Reign of K. William, she remembers the Reign of King Charles 2d., James 2d., Wm. and Mary. She remembers King James’s Warrs, &c. But has got quite lost about her Age. Her daughter asked her how old she was. She said upwards of Three score, but she could not tell.
Got into my Chair after my Return from the old Woman, rode with Elder Bradbury thro Sir William Pepperells Woods, stopped and oated at Millikins, and rode into Falmouth, and putt up at Mr. Jonathan Webbs—Where I found my Classmate Charles Cushing, Mr. George Lyde, the Collector here, one Mr. Johnson and one Mr. Crocker.
1. James Sullivan, afterward governor of Massachusetts, had just been admitted attorney in the Superior Court term at York in June; admitted barrister, 1772 (Superior Court of Judicature, Minute Books 92, 97).
2. Space thus left in MS.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0014-0004-0003

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1770-07-03

July 3. 1770. Tuesday.

Rose in comfortable Health.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0014-0004-0004

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1770-07-08

July 8. 1770 Sunday.

This Week has been taken up in the Hurry of the Court, and I have not been able to snatch a Moment to put down any Thing. The softly People where I lodge, Don Webb and his Wife, are the Opposites of every Thing great, spirited and enterprizing. His father was a dissenting Parson, and a Relation of mine, a zealous Puritan, and famous Preacher. This son however without the least Regard to his Education, his Connections, Relations, Reputation, or Examination into the controversy turns about and goes to Church, merely because an handfull of young foolish fellows here, took it into their Heads to go. Don never was, or aimed to be any Thing at Colledge but a silent Hearer of a few Rakes, and he continues to this day the same Man, rather the same softly living Thing that creepeth upon the face of the Earth. He attempted Trade but failed in that—now keeps School and takes Boarders, and his Wife longs to be genteel, to go to Dances, Assemblies, Dinners, suppers &c—but cannot make it out for Want thereof. Such Imbicility of Genius, such Poverty of Spirit, such Impotence of Nerve, is often accompanied with a fribbling Affectation of Politeness, which is to me completely ridiculous—green Tea, if We could but get it—Madeira Wine, if I could but get it—Collectors1 genteel Company, Dances, late suppers and Clubbs, &c. &c.
{ 359 }
1. To make the meaning clear, either an apostrophe or a comma (and more likely the former) should have been inserted after this word, but there is no punctuation in the MS.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0014-0004-0005

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1770-07-12

Thursday Afternoon [12 July.]

3 O Clock, got into my Desobligeant to go home. 2 or 3 miles out of Town I overtook 2 Men on horseback. They rode sometimes before me, then would fall behind, and seemed a little unsteady. At last one of ’em came up. What is your Name? Why of what Consequence is it what my Name is? Why says he only as we are travelling the Road together, I wanted to know where you came from, and what your Name was. I told him my Name.—Where did you come from? Boston. Where have you been? To Falmouth. Upon a Frolick I suppose? No upon Business. What Business pray? Business at Court.
Thus far I humoured his Impertinence. Well now says he do you want to know my Name? Yes. My Name is Robert Jordan, I belong to Cape Elizabeth, and am now going round there. My forefathers came over here and settled a great many Years ago.—After a good deal more of this harmless Impertinence, he turned off, and left me.—I baited at Millikins and rode thro Saco Woods, and then rode from Saco Bridge, thro the Woods to Pattens after Night—many sharp, steep Hills, many Rocks, many deep Rutts, and not a Footstep of Man, except in the Road. It was vastly disagreable. Lodged at Pattens.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0014-0004-0006

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1770-07-13

Fryday July 13. 1770.

Arose and walked with Patten to see the neighbouring Fields of English Grass and Grain and Indian Corn, consuming before the Worms. A long black Worm crawls up the Stalk of Rye or Grass and feeds upon the leaves. The Indian Corn looked stripped to a Skelleton, and that was black with the Worms. I found that they prevail very much in Arundell and Wells and so all along to Portsmouth and to Hampton.
Stopped two Hours at Mr. Hemenways, and then rode thro the Woods, in excessive Heat to York, dined at Woodbridges, who was much elated with his new Licence, and after Dinner was treating his friends, some of them. Spent an Hour at Mr. Sewalls with Elder Bradbury and then went to Portsmouth, crossed the Ferry after 9 O Clock and putt up at Tiltons the Sign of the Marquis of Rockingham—a very good House. I will call no more at Stavers’s. I found very good Entertainment, and excellent Attendance—a very convenient House, a spacious Yard, good stables, and an excellent Garden, full of { 360 } Carrotts, Beets, Cabbages, Onions, Colliflowers, &c. This Tiltons is just behind the State House.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0014-0004-0007

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1770-07-14

Saturday July 14. 1770.

Arose at 4. Got ready as soon as I could and rode out of Town a few Miles to Breakfast. Breakfasted at Lovatts in Hampton, 10 miles from Portsmouth and 12 from Newbury. Threatened with a very hot day. I hope I shall not be so overcome with Heat and Fatigue as I was Yesterday.
I fully intended to have made a long Visit to Governor Wentworth, upon this Occasion. But he was unluckily gone to Wolfborough, so that this Opportunity is lost.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0014-0005-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1770-08-09

1770. August. 9th. Thursday.

[salute] Madam1

I received from Mr. Gill an Intimation, that a Letter from me would not be disagreable to you, and have been emboldened, by that Means, to run the Venture of giving you this Trouble. I have read with much Admiration, Mrs. Maccaulays History of England &c. It is formed upon the Plan, which I have ever wished to see adopted by Historians. It is calculated to strip off the Gilding and false Lustre from worthless Princes and Nobles, and to bestow the Reward of Virtue, Praise upon the generous and worthy only.2
No Charms of Eloquence, can atone for the Want of this exact Historical Morality. And I must be allowed to say, I have never seen an History in which it is more religiously regarded.
It was from this History, as well as from the concurrent Testimony, of all who have come to this Country from England, that I had formed the highest Opinion of the Author as one of the brightest ornaments not only of her Sex but of her Age and Country. I could not therefore, but esteem the Information given me by Mr. Gill, as one of the most agreable and fortunate Occurences of my Life.
Indeed it was rather a Mortification to me to find that a few fugitive Speculations in a News Paper, had excited your Curiosity to enquire after me. The Production, which some Person in England, I know not who, has been pleased to intitle a Dissertation on the cannon and the Feudal Law, was written, at Braintree about Eleven Miles from Boston in the Year 1765, written at Random weekly without any preconceived Plan, printed in the Newspapers, without Correction, and so little noticed or regarded here that the Author never thought it { 361 } worth his while to give it Either a Title or a signature. And indeed the Editor in London, might with more Propriety have called it The What d ye call it, or as the Critical Reviewers did a flimsy lively Rhapsody than by the Title he has given it.3
But it seems it happened to hit the Taste of some one who has given [it] a longer Duration, than a few Weeks, by printing it in Conjunction with the Letters of the House of Representatives of this Province and by ascribing it to a very venerable, learned Name. I am sorry that Mr. Gridleys Name was affixed to it for many Reasons. The Mistakes, Inaccuracies and Want of Arrangement in it, are utterly unworthy of Mr. Gridlys great and deserved Character for Learning and the general Spirit and Sentiments of it, are by no Means reconcilable to his known Opinions and Principles in Politicks.
It was indeed written by your present Correspondent, who then had formed Designs, which he never has and never will attempt to execute. Oppressed and borne down as he is by the Infirmities of ill Health, and the Calls of a numerous growing Family, whose only Hopes are in his continual Application to the Drudgeries of his Profession, it is almost impossible for him to pursue any Enquiries or to enjoy any Pleasures of the literary Kind.
However, He has been informed that you have in Contemplation an History of the present Reign, or some other History in which the Affairs of America are to have a Share. If this is true it would give him infinite Pleasure—and whether it is or not, if he can by any Means in his Power, by Letters or otherways, contribute any Thing to your Assistance in any of your Enquiries, or to your Amusement he will always esteem himself very happy in attempting it.
Pray excuse the Trouble of this Letter, and believe me, with great Esteem and Admiration, your most obedient and very huml. servant.
1. Catharine (Sawbridge) Macaulay (1731–1791), political pamphleteer and historian, whose multi-volume History of England, from the Accession of James I to That of the Brunswick Line, London, 1763–1783, was for a time a kind of Bible for political radicals in England and America. See Lucy M. Donnelly, “The Celebrated Mrs. Macaulay,”.WMQ, 3d ser., 6:173–207 (April 1949)
2. The MS of the present draft is heavily corrected, but with the exception of a wholly canceled first paragraph the omissions and alterations do not seem important enough to record. The draft originally began as follows:
“With great Pleasure I received an Intimation from my Friend Mr. Gill that, you had enquired of Sophronia for the Author of a Speculation in a Newspaper which Some one has been pleased to call a Dissertation on the Cannon and feudal Law.”
Who Sophronia was does not appear.
3. The “Editor in London” was Thomas Hollis, who first reprinted JA’s untitled newspaper essays of 1765 in the London Chronicle (see note on entry of Feb. 1765, above), and then issued them as the last part (p. 111–143) of a collection of papers he called The True Sentiments { 362 } of America: ... Together with ... a Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law, London, 1768, remarking in an introductory note to the latter that “The Author of it, is said to have been, Jeremy Gridley, Esq; Attorney General of the Province of Massachuset’s Bay.” Andrew Eliot informed Hollis of his error, adding some interesting comments on the real author, in a letter dated 27 Sept 1768 (MHS, Colls., 4th ser., 4[1858]:426–427; see also p. 434).

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0014-0005-0002

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1770-08-19

1770. August 19. Sunday.

Last Fryday went to the Light House with the Committee of both Houses.1
Mr. Royal Tyler began to pick chat with me. Mr. Adams, have you ever read Dr. Souths sermon upon the Wisdom of this World? No. He lend it to you.—I should be much obliged.—Have you read the Fable of the Bees. Yes, and the Marquis of Hallifax’s Character of a Trimmer and Hurds Dialogue upon Sincerity in the Commerce of Life—and Machiavell and Caesar Borgia. Hard if these are not enough.
Tyler. The Author of the Fable of the Bees understood Human Nature and Mankind, better than any Man that ever lived. I can follow him as he goes along. Every Man in public Life ought to read that Book, to make him jealous and suspicious—&c.
Yesterday He sent the Book, and excellent Sermons they are. Concise and nervous and clear. Strong Ebullitions of the loyal Fanaticism of the Times he lived in, at and after the Restoration, but notwithstanding those Things there is a Degree of Sense and Spirit and Taste in them which will ever render them valuable.2
The sermon which Mr. Tyler recommended to my Perusal, is a sermon preached at Westminster Abbey Ap. 30. 1676. from 1. Cor. 3.19. For the Wisdom of this World, is Foolishness with God.—The Dr. undertakes to shew what are those Rules or Principles of Action, upon which the Policy, or Wisdom, in the Text proceeds, and he mentions 4. Rules or Principles. 1. A Man must maintain a constant continued Course of Dissimulation, in the whole Tenor of his Behaviour. 2. That Conscience and Religion ought to lay no Restraint upon Men at all, when it lies opposite to the Prosecution of their Interest—or in the Words of Machiavel, “that the Shew of Religion was helpfull to the Politician, but the Reality of it, hurtfull and pernicious.” 3. That a Man ought to make himself, and not the Public, the chief if not the sole End of all his Actions. 4. That in shewing Kindness, or doing favours, no Respect at all is to be had to Friendship, Gratitude, or Sense of Honour; but that such favours are to be done only to the rich or potent, from whom a Man may receive a farther Advantage, or to his Enemies from whom he may otherwise fear a Mischief.
{ 363 }
Mr. Winthrop, Mr. Adams and myself endeavoured to recollect the old Distich—Gutta cavat lapidem non vi, sed sepe cadendo. So far we got, but neither of these Gentlemen had ever heard the other Part, I, who had some Years ago been very familiar with it, could not recollect it—but it is

Sic, Homo fit doctus, non vi, sed sepe legendo.

Mr. Mason led us a Jaunt over sharp Rocks to the Point of the Island opposite to Nantasket, where in an hideous Cavern formed by a great Prominent Rock he shewed Us the Animal Plant or flower, a small, spungy muscular Substance, growing fast to the Rock, in figure and feeling resembling a young Girls Breast, shoot[ing] out at the Top of it, a flower, which shrinks in and disappears, upon touching the Substance.
1. The expedition of this committee of inspection was to Little Brewster or Beacon Island, where Boston light stood and still stands.
2. Surviving among JA’s books in the Boston Public Library is the first volume of Robert South’s Twelve Sermons Preached upon Several Occasions, 5th edn., London, 1722.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0014-0005-0003

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1770-08-20

1770 Aug. 20. Monday.

The first Maxim of worldly Wisdom, constant Dissimulation, may be good or evil as it is interpreted. If it means only a constant Concealment from others of such of our Sentiments, Actions, Desires, and Resolutions, as others have not a Right to know, it is not only lawful but commendable—because when these are once divulged, our Enemies may avail themselves of the Knowledge of them, to our Damage, Danger and Confusion. So that some Things which ought to be communicated to some of our Friends, that they may improve them to our Profit or Honour or Pleasure, should be concealed from our Enemies, and from indiscreet friends, least they should be turned to our Loss, Disgrace or Mortification. I am under no moral or other Obligation to publish to the World, how much my Expences or my Incomes amount to yearly. There are Times when and Persons to whom, I am not obliged to tell what are my Principles and Opinions in Politicks or Religion.
There are Persons whom in my Heart I despize; others I abhor. Yet I am not obliged to inform the one of my Contempt, nor the other of my Detestation. This Kind of Dissimulation, which is no more than Concealment, Secrecy, and Reserve, or in other Words, Prudence and Discretion, is a necessary Branch of Wisdom, and so far from being immoral and unlawfull, that [it] is a Duty and a Virtue.
{ 364 }
Yet even this must be understood with certain Limitations, for there are Times, when the Cause of Religion, of Government, of Liberty, the Interest of the present Age and of Posterity, render it a necessary Duty for a Man to make known his Sentiments and Intentions boldly and publickly. So that it is difficult to establish any certain Rule, to determine what Things a Man may and what he may not lawfully conceal, and when. But it is no doubt clear, that there are many Things which may lawfully be concealed from many Persons at certain Times; and on the other Hand there are Things, which at certain Times it becomes mean and selfish, base, and wicked to conceal from some Persons.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0014-0005-0004

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1770-08-22

1770. August 22. Wednesday.

Rode to Cambridge in Company with Coll. Severn Ayers [Eyre] and Mr. Hewitt from Virginia, Mr. Bull and Mr. Trapier from South Carolina, Messrs. Cushing, Hancock, Adams, Thorn. Brattle, Dr. Cooper and Wm. Cooper. Mr. Professor Winthrop shewed Us the Colledge, the Hall, Chappell, Phylosophy Room, Apparatus, Library and Musaeum. We all dined at Stedmans, and had a very agreable Day. The Virginia Gentlemen are very full, and zealous in the Cause of American Liberty. Coll. Ayers is an intimate Friend of Mr. Patrick Henry, the first Mover of the Virginia Resolves in 1765, and is himself a Gentleman of great fortune, and of great Figure and Influence in the House of Burgesses. Both He and Mr. Hewit were bred at the Virginia Colledge, and appear to be Men of Genius and Learning. Ayers informed me that in the Reign of Charles 2d. an Act was sent over, from England, with an Instruction to the Governor, and he procured the Assembly to pass it granting a Duty of 2s. an Hogshead upon all Tobacco exported from the Colony, to his Majesty forever. This Duty amounts now to a Revenue of £5000 sterling a Year, which is given part to the Governor, part to the Judges &c. to the Amount of about £4000, and what becomes of the other 1000 is unknown. The Consequence of this is that the Governor calls an Assembly when he pleases, and that is only once in two Years.
These Gentlemen are all Valetudinarians and are taking the Northern Tour for their Health.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0014-0005-0005

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1770-08

[Draft of a Newspaper Communication, August? 1770.]1

[epigraph]
“If I would but go to Hell for an eternal Moment or so, I might be knighted.” Shakespeare.
{ 365 }
The Good of the governed is the End, and Rewards and Punishments are the Means of all Government. The Government of the Supream and alperfect Mind, over all his intellectual Creation, is by proportioning Rewards to Piety and Virtue, and Punishments to Disobedience and Vice. Virtue, by the Constitution of Nature carries in general its own Reward, and Vice its own Punishment, even in this World. But as many Exceptions to this Rule, take Place upon Earth, the Joys of Heaven are prepared, and the Horrors of Hell in a future State to render the moral Government of the Universe, perfect and compleat. Human Government is more or less perfect, as it approaches nearer or diverges farther from an Imitation of this perfect Plan of divine and moral Government. In Times of Simplicity and Innocence, Ability and Integrity will be the principal Recommendations to the public Service, and the sole Title to those Honours and Emoluments, which are in the Power of the Public to bestow. But when Elegance, Luxury and Effeminacy begin to be established, these Rewards will begin to be distributed to Vanity and folly. But when a Government becomes totally corrupted, the system of God Almighty in the Government of the World and the Rules of all good Government upon Earth will be reversed, and Virtue, Integrity and Ability will become the Objects of the Malice, Hatred and Revenge of the Men in Power, and folly, Vice, and Villany will be cherished and supported. In such Times you will see a Governor of a Province, for unwearied Industry in his Endeavours to ruin and destroy the People, whose Welfare he was under every moral obligation to study and promote, knighted and enobled. You will see a Philanthrop, for propagating as many Lies and Slanders against his Country as ever fell from the Pen of a sychophant, rewarded with the Places of Solicitor General, Attorney general, Advocate General, and Judge of Admiralty, with Six Thousands a Year. You will see 17 Rescinders, Wretches, without Sense or Sentiment, rewarded with Commissions to be Justices of Peace, Justices of the Common Pleas and presently Justices of the Kings Bench.
The Consequence of this will be that the Iron Rod of Power will be stretched out vs. the poor People in every [sentence unfinished]
1. The date assigned is approximate. The draft was written at the end of D/JA/15, with a largely blank page preceding it. No printing of this fragmentary essay has been found. Other apparently related fragments will be found under Jan.? 1770, above, and 9 Feb. 1772, below.
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/