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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 1


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/