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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 1


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.
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/