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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 1

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0011-0013

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-09-13


At about 9 this morning we left Haverhill, cross'd the river, and stopp'd first at Mr. Symmes's, and afterwards at Mr. French's, but a few minutes at each. After we had rode, about a { 323 } mile beyond Mr. French's house, we turn'd away from the road we came to Haverhill by, and took the Lincoln road: but I was very much surprised, to see that very few persons knew, any thing about Lincoln, although it is not more than 22 miles distant from Andover: I met a man whom I judg'd by his appearance to be turn'd of sixty: when I enquired of him the road to Lincoln; his answer was, that he knew of no such place: how many mortals,

On the self same spot,

Are born, take nurture, propagate, and rot,1

entirely ignorant of every thing that lies ten miles beyond it? But in this Country, where every man has an opportunity of displaying the talents he possesses; and where the education of the People, is so much more attended to, than in any part of Europe, or perhaps of the world, I did not expect to find beings of that sort.

[]rich [] poor [][][] august

How great! how low! how abject! How sublime!

How wonderful! how complicate is man!2

We rode through about 8 miles of sand, and 4 of rocks, after which the road was better: at about 6 o'clock, we arrived at Lincoln, and immediately went to my aunt Smith's.3 She has five children with her, and one at Mr. Shaw's.4 Billy, Louisa, Polly, Isaac, and Charles are here. The eldest is not more than 14 years old: the youngest is about 6. Oh! it almost makes my heart, shrink within me; when I look on these fine Children; to think of the Prospects before them: entirely the effects of extravagance in a father: what a Lesson! Surely providence makes sometimes use of these means, to terrify those who can be actuated by no other principle, into the performance of their duty.
1. “An Essay on Man,” Epistle II, line 63.
2. “How poor, how rich, how abject, how august,/How complicate, how wonderful, is man!” (Edward Young, “The Complaint; Or, Night Thoughts,” Night I, lines [68–69], Poetical Works, 2 vols., Boston, 1854, 1:6).
3. Catharine Louisa Salmon Smith (1749–1824), wife of William Smith Jr., the brother of AA. Smith (1746–1787), as the rest of JQA's entry suggests, had burdened his wife and children with cares through his improvidence and neglect, though his precise activities have not been fully pieced together. He had settled his family on his father's property in Lincoln before the Revolution and was undoubtedly engaged in trade during the years after the war. Smith had been absent from his family for the past two years and was seldom heard from, and his wife, in a { 324 } letter to AA of 26 Oct. (Adams Papers), hoped “for his reformation and restoration to virtue and to his family.” According to other family members, Smith suffered from alcoholism. Besides having deserted his family, Smith was on trial in New York during these months on a charge of counterfeiting, of which he was later acquitted. When he died two years later, he was still separated from his family (Mary Smith Cranch to AA, 10 Dec. 1785; 22 March–9 April 1786, 21 Oct. 1787, Adams Papers; CFA, Diary, 5:143–144).
4. This was Elizabeth (1771–1854), the youngestoldest of the Smiths' six children.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0011-0014

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-09-14


Dined at Lincoln, and immediately after dinner we again proceeded on our journey and by 5 o'clock, got to Cambridge, which is 12 miles: we came through Concord, and Lexington which 12 years ago were of no note, but which have been since rendered ever memorable, by being the place, where the first martyrs in the glorious cause of American Liberty, bled, (April 19th. 1775). Posterity will revere this spot of Land, more, than the Dutch do the place where Egmont and Horn, suffered; which is at Brussels.
We drank tea at Cambridge, and at about 6 we set out for Boston. We cross'd the ferry at about dusk; and got to Mr. Cranch's lodgings, just in good Season. We found Miss Betsey had been very unwell, but recovering. Mr. I. Smith,1 came in a few minutes after we got there: and I went with him to a Club2 of which he was member. I found there Dr. Welch, Dr. Dexter,3 Dr. Appleton,4 and Mr. Brewster. It was at Mr. Clarkes5 house; this gentleman is collegue to Dr. Chauncy, in the Ministry, and bears a good Character as a preacher. At about 9. I went home with Mr. Smith. His father and mother yesterday left the Town, with the Governor,6 Lieutenant Governor, and their Ladies to go to Princeton, to Mr. Gill's7 Seat. He gave me a Letter from my friend Brush, in New Haven.8
1. Isaac Smith Jr. (1749–1829), son of Deacon Isaac Smith and cousin of AA. Smith fled to England as a loyalist in 1775, but returned to America in 1784. Trained in the ministry, he preached in various places after his return but never received a call. Later he served as Harvard librarian, 1787–1791, and preceptor of Dummer Academy, 1791–1809 (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 16:523–530).
2. This was undoubtedly the Wednesday Evening Club, founded in 1777 by four clergymen, four doctors, four lawyers, and four “merchants, manufacturers and gentlemen of literature and leisure.” Neither Brewster nor Isaac Smith Jr. were apparently members, however, although Smith's brother, William, was (The Centennial Celebration of the Wednesday Evening Club: Instituted June 21, 1777, Boston, 1878, p. 142–145).
3. Aaron Dexter, Boston physician and Erving Professor of Chemistry and Materia Medica at Harvard, 1783–1816 { 325 } ([Charles C. Smith], “Notice of Aaron Dexter, M.D.,” MHS, Procs., 1 [1791–1835]:421–423).
4. Nathaniel Walker Appleton, half-brother of John and Thomas Appleton, was a Boston physician and a founder of the Massachusetts Medical Society (Walter L. Burrage, History of the Massachusetts Medical Society with Brief Biographies of the Founders and Chief Officers, 1781–1922 Boston, 1923, p. 34–36; W. S. Appleton, Genealogy of the Appleton Family, Boston, 1874, p. 14).
5. John Clarke was later minister of the First Church of Boston (“Sketch of the Life and Character of the Late Rev. Dr. Clarke,” MHS, Colls., 1st ser., 6 [1800]:iii–ix).
6. James Bowdoin served two terms as governor of Massachusetts, 1785–1787 (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 11: 514–550).
7. John Gill, captain of the Continental artillery during the Revolution and owner of extensive potash lands in Princeton, Mass. (same, 17:521–522).
8. Presumably Eliphalet Brush to JQA, 29 Aug. (Adams Papers).
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2018.