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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0002-0006-0004

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1772-10-27

1772. Octr. 27. Tuesday.

At the Printing Office this Morning. Mr. Otis came in, with his { 65 } Eyes, fishy and fiery, looking and acting as wildly as ever he did.—“You Mr. Edes, You John Gill and you Paul Revere, can you stand there Three Minutes.”—Yes.—“Well do. Brother Adams go along with me.”— Up Chamber we went. He locks the Door and takes out the Kee. Sit down Tete a Tete.—“You are going to Cambridge to day”—Yes.—“So am I, if I please. I want to know, if I was to come into Court, and ask the Court if they were at Leisure to hear a Motion—and they should say Yes—And I should say 'May it please your Honours—
“‘I have heard a Report and read an Account that your Honours are to be paid your Salaries for the future by the Crown, out of a Revenue raised from Us, without our Consent. As an Individual of the Community, as a Citizen of the Town, as an Attorney and Barrister of this Court, I beg your Honours would inform me, whether that Report is true, and if it is, whether your Honours determine to accept of such an Appointment?'
“Or Suppose the substance of this should be reduced to a written Petition, would this be a Contempt? Is mere Impertinence a Contempt?”1
In the Course of this curious Conversation it oozed out that Cushing, Adams, and He, had been in Consultation but Yesterday, in the same Chamber upon that Subject.
In this Chamber, Otis was very chatty. He told me a story of Coll. Erving, whose Excellency lies, he says, not in military Skill, but in humbugging. Erving met Parson Morehead [Moorehead] near his Meeting House. You have a fine Steeple, and Bell, says he, to your Meeting House now.—Yes, by the Liberality of Mr. Hancock and the Subscriptions of some other Gentlemen We have a very hansome and convenient House of it at last.—But what has happened to the Vane, Mr. Morehead, it dont traverse, it has pointed the same Way these 3 Weeks.—Ay I did not know it, i'l see about it.—Away goes Morehead, storming among his Parish, and the Tradesmen, who had built the Steeple, for fastening the Vane so that it could not move. The Tradesmen were alarmed, and went to examine it, but soon found that the fault was not in the Vane but the Weather, the Wind having sat very constantly at East, for 3 Weeks before.
He also said there was a Report about Town that Morehead had given Thanks publicly, that by the Generosity of Mr. Hancock, and some other Gentlemen, they were enabled to worship God as genteely now as any other Congregation in Town.
After We came down Stairs, something was said about military Matters.—Says Otis to me, Youl never learn military Exercises.—Ay { 66 } why not?—That You have an Head for it needs no Commentary, but not an Heart.—Ay how do you know—you never searched my Heart.— “Yes I have—tired with one Years Service, dancing from Boston to Braintree and from Braintree to Boston, moaping about the Streets of this Town as hipped as Father Flynt at 90, and seemingly regardless of every Thing, but to get Money enough to carry you smoothly through this World.”
This is the Rant of Mr. Otis concerning me, and I suppose of 2 thirds of the Town.—But be it known to Mr. Otis, I have been in the public Cause as long as he, 'tho I was never in the General Court but one Year. I have sacrificed as much to it as he. I have never got [my]2 Father chosen Speaker and Councillor by it, my Brother in Law chosen into the House and chosen Speaker by it, nor a Brother in Laws Brother in Law into the House and Council by it. Nor did I ever turn about in the House, betray my Friends and rant on the Side of Prerogative, for an whole Year, to get a father into a Probate Office, and a first Justice of a Court of Common Pleas, and a Brother into a Clerks Office.
There is a Complication of Malice, Envy and Jealousy in this Man, in the present disordered State of his Mind that is quite shocking.
I thank God my mind is prepared, for whatever can be said of me. The Storm shall blow over me in Silence.
Rode to Cambridge and made a Mornings Visit to Judge Trowbridge in his solitary, gloomy State. He is very dull, talks about retiring from Court. Says he cant fix his Attention as he could—is in doubt whether he ought to sit in a Capital Case, least he should omit something that is material—&c. &c.
Was inquisitive however, about Politicks and what the Town of Boston was likely to do about the Judges Salaries. Said he heard they were about to choose a Committee to wait upon the Court, to enquire of them &c. &c. Comparing this with Otis's distracted Proposal to me, about a Motion or Petition, I concluded that something of this Kind had been talked of in Town, 'tho I never heard a Hint of it from any but these two.3
Trowbridge thought there never was a Time when every Thing was so out of Joint. Our general Court gave Cushing for a fortnights Work as much as the Judges for a Years. The Ministry gave £600 a Year to the Admiralty Judges, for doing no more Business than the Superior Court did in one Term, 'tho the latter had a Controul over the former. For his Part he could not look upon it in any other Light than as an Affront. This is nearly the same that he said to Coll. Warren.
{ 67 }
Attended Court, all Day, dined with the Judges &c. at Bradishes. Brattle was there and was chatty. Fitch came in blustering when Dinner was half over.
1. Minimum punctuation for clarity has been supplied in the dialogue here and below.
2. MS: “Mr.”
3. For JA's part in the controversy over the judges' salaries, see entry of 4 March 1773, below.

Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0002-0007-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1772-11-21

1772. Novr. 21.

Next Tuesday I shall remove my Family to Boston, after residing in Braintree about 19 Months. I have recovered a Degree of Health by this Excursion into the Country, tho I am an infirm Man yet. I hope I have profited by Retirement and Reflection!—and learned in what manner to live in Boston! How long I shall be able to stay in the City, I know not; if my Health should again decline, I must return to Braintree and renounce the Town entirely. I hope however to be able to stay there many Years! To this End I must remember Temperance, Exercise and Peace of Mind. Above all Things I must avoid Politicks, Political Clubbs, Town Meetings, General Court, &c. &c. &c.
I must ride frequently to Braintree to inspect my Farm, and when in Boston must spend my Evenings in my Office, or with my Family, and with as little Company as possible.

Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0002-0007-0002

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1772-11-21

Novr. 21st. 1772.

Eleven Years have passed since I minuted any Thing in this Book.1 What an admirable Advantage it would have been if I had recorded every Step in the Progress of my Studies for these Eleven Years.
If I had kept an exact Journal of all my Journeys on the Circuits, of all the Removes of my Family, my Buildings, Purchases, the gradual Increase of my Library, and Family, as well as of the Improvement of my Mind by my Studies, the whole would have composed entertaining Memoirs, to me in my old Age, and to my Family after my Decease.
One Thing in this Book shall be a Lesson to me. The Gentleman to whom the Letter is directed, an extract of which is in the Beginning of this Book, Eleven Years ago I thought the best Friend, I had in the World.2 I loved him accordingly and corresponded with him, many Years, without Reserve: But the Scaene is changed. At this Moment I look upon him [as] the most bitter, malicious, determined and implacable Enemy I have. God forgive him the Part he has acted, both in public and private Life! It is not impossible that he may make the same Prayer for me.
{ 68 }
I am now about removing, a Second Time from Braintree to Boston. In April 1768 I removed to Boston, to the white House in Brattle Square, in the Spring 1769, I removed to Cole Lane, to Mr. Fayerweathers House. In 1770 I removed to another House in Brattle Square, where Dr. Cooper now lives, in 1771, I removed from Boston to Braintree, in the Month of April, where I have lived to this Time. I hope I shall not have Occasion to remove so often for 4 Years and an half to come.
The numerous Journeys and Removes, that I have taken in this Period, have put my Mind into an unsettled State. They have occasioned too much Confusion and Dissipation. I hope to pass a more steady, regular Life for the future in all Respects.
When I chance to meet with any of my own Compositions, of Ten Years old, I am much inclined to think I could write with more Accuracy and Elegance then than I can now, and that I had more Sense and Knowledge then, than I have now. My Memory, and Fancy were certainly better then, and my Judgment, I conjecture quite as good.
1. This entry derives from D/JA/4, JA's desultory record of reading and studies, kept only for a brief period and long since abandoned; in the MS it follows immediately an entry dated 20 Nov. 1761, q.v. above.
2. Jonathan Sewall. The letter in question, at the beginning of D/JA/4, is dated Oct. 1759 (vol. 1:123–124, above).
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/