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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 1

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0007

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-07


Last Evening Betsey Cranch arrived, and came this morning to see us. She came with Mr. Ben Blodget, the youngest of that family. She is to live at Mr. White's, at least a great part of the { 337 } time she will stay in Haverhill. I cannot help wishing she was to spend more of the time in this House, for several Reasons.
I went down and spent an hour with Mr. Thaxter at his Office; He told me he thought B. Duncan, the girl of the most Reason, and good Sense in Haverhill: this was enough for a friend but not sufficient for a Lover. He spoke of several other girls in this Place, but not with the most favourable partiality. Dined at home, Miss Perkins favoured us with her Company. She is about as tall as Miss Duncan, and her shape is nearly as fine. Her face is perhaps as pretty, and her hair is more adapted to the taste of mankind at this day: but there is something in the other Lady's Eye, that window of the Soul, which must I think determine the generality of mankind in her favour. Miss Perkins, appears very young; I doubt whether she is yet seventeen: And she shows all the levity which commonly distinguishes girls at that time of Life. I would call her a Romp, but her pretty face forbids me to; I would say that she has too much of

The loud laugh, that speaks the vacant mind.1

but, a pair of dangerous eyes, threaten me with Revenge, if I dare be guilty of such a crime.
1. Oliver Goldsmith, “The Deserted Village” [line 122] (Poems, Plays and Essays . . ., Boston, 1854, p. 90).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0008

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-08


Mr. Thaxter spent half an hour with us in the forenoon; after dinner my Brother and myself went gunning, from 3 o'clock till dark. The only game to be found here, are Larks and Robins, and black birds: there were great numbers of them. We brought home 17 and should probably have had many more, had I been as good a marksman as my brother. At length the long expected trunks are come; and Mr. Peabody, to whose care they were addrest, says they have been here ever since, Tuesday, but he has not been able to find them out; I believe the plain fact is, he forgot to leave any body, to deliver them, in Case, they came, while he was at Boston, and since his return has not thought of them till now. I am however very glad to have them at last safe. One of the trunks was wet in the bottom: and the clothes in it were somewhat moist.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0009

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-10


At about 12 o'clock, I went down to Mr. Thaxter's Office. And soon after I went with him, and paid a visit to Judge Sargeant, who return'd last Friday. He and his Lady were, both of them very polite: and invited me to come often to their house. Mrs. Sargeant,2 has in her countenance, all that placid mildness, which so much becomes a Lady at that time of Life. If I mistake not, I also perceived in it, a small degree of Melancholy, which always strikes me, and makes a person more interesting to me. Dined at home. Miss Nancy spent the afternoon and Evening out, as indeed she always does. I intended to have gone down to Master White's; but a thunder shower came up a little before dark, and prevented me. It lasted about two hours, and the lightening was exceeding sharp, though, the Thunder was not hard. Mr. Ben Blodget came home with Nancy, but staid only a few minutes. I am apt to believe he is another admirer of her Charms, and I tell her she has the gantlet to run through that family. Indeed she seems to have ingrossed the attentions of almost every youth in Haverhill. The girl has surely something bewitching in her, for she treats them all very ill.
1. In the MS, “10th” appears to be marked over “9th”; JQA's letter to AA2, 1–22 Oct. (Adams Papers), under the part written on 12 Oct., confirms the former date.
2. Mary Pickering Leavitt Sargeant, sister of Timothy Pickering, who was later secretary of state, and mother of Mrs. Sarah Leavitt White Payson, also of Haverhill (Harrison Ellery and Charles Pickering Bowditch, The Pickering Genealogy: Being An Account of the . . . Pickering Family of Salem, Mass. . . ., 3 vols., Cambridge, 1897, 1:112–118, 133).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0010

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-11


The weather begins to grow Cold: and the winter is advancing with hasty strides. In the afternoon I went down to Mr. White's, but they were all gone out: Went and spent half an hour at Mr. Blodget's, then return'd home. I accompanied the inseparables Nancy, and Debby, to Judge Sargeants, where we remain'd all the evening. Those two girls in particular, ate such a quantity of peaches, as astonished me. I should not have thought that five persons could devour so many in one Evening. From thence we went to see Miss Perkins home, and after staying there a quarter of an hour, retired to our Respective Stations. Mr. Osgood accompanied Miss Nancy home, and I Miss T. Sargeant, who spends a great part of her time with Mrs. Payson her Sister, who { 339 } is in poor Health. I expect to hear to morrow that Miss Nancy cannot leave her Chamber. Oh! Prudence, what a charming virtue art thou! But how few are so happy as to possess thee!

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0011

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-12


There were not those effects which I expected from last Night's frolic. Though Miss Nancy was not perfectly well to day. In the afternoon I went with her, down as far as Mr. Duncan's, left her there, and went myself down to Mr. White's. They all complain'd of my not having been more to see them since I arrived here. They expect their Son1 home to-morrow. They have some thoughts of his going to London, in the first vessel, that sails; if he should be able to obtain Leave from the government of the College. The young Ladies are learning to play upon the harpsichord, and play'd a number of tunes. This family is an exceeding agreeable one; Mrs. White appears to be exceedingly fond of her family, and to possess those virtues which in this Country are most peculiarly requisite, but which our young Ladies seem too fond of shaking off. In short I think our matrons in general, must strike an impartial person, in a more amiable light than most of our maiden toasts. A warm affection for her family, and an humane and benevolent heart for the rest of the world, are in my opinion a woman's greatest ornaments. Miss Peggy is about 20 years old, and is called a Beauty. Her face has a great deal of Dignity, perhaps a little Severity in it; but when adorn'd with a smile is extremely pleasant. Last Winter, she was in a very unfortunate State of mind: a melancholy seiz'd her, which greatly distress'd her Parents; but she recovered in the Spring, and has since that time enjoyed a most uncommon flow of Spirits. When a scale is weigh'd down on one side, it is extremely difficult to lighten it immediately just as much as is necessary to make the balance just; the danger is that the other side, should in its turn weigh down. Her brother Leonard is my Cousin Cranch's Chamber mate at College: and has studied with him these three years.
1. Leonard White, who became one of JQA's most intimate friends in Haverhill and later at Cambridge, where they were classmates. White held numerous public offices in Haverhill throughout his life and served a term as representative in the state legislature in 1809 and as a member of the congress, 1811–1813. After his return from Washington, he became cashier of the Merrimack Bank of Haverhill from 1814 to 1836 (Essex Antiquarian, 11:37 [Jan. 1907]; Biog. Dir. Cong.).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0012

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-13


Miss Nancy, My Brother and myself dined with Mr. Dodge, to day: Mr. Thaxter was there. He went two or three days ago to Newbury and return'd last night. Mr. Dodge is a person of extensive reading, and is fond of enquiring, which is always very agreeable to a traveller. In the afternoon I went with Mr. Thaxter to Mr. Osgood's1 Store, and afterwards to his own office. We return'd and drank tea at Mr. Dodge's: after that return'd home: Miss Hazen spent the Evening out. Cold weather.
1. Isaac Osgood, a Haverhill merchant in West Indian goods and the London trade (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 11:472–473).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0013

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-14


Dined this day at Judge Sargeants. Mr. Payson, his Son in Law, Mr. Thaxter, and my brother were there. The judge will set out to-morrow, to ride the Circuit again; the manner in which three quarters of his time are taken up. Spent an hour with Mr. Thaxter at his office, and he then went with me to our House, where we found a number of Ladies at tea. They soon after went away: as there were a number of Ladies and no gentlemen, I offer'd to wait upon two of the Ladies, and had before the end of the evening reason to repent for my Complaisance. We first, all went down to Mr. Blodget's, and after staying there about a quarter of an hour, to Mr. Bartlets. We were there, 14 or 15 persons in a small Room, gazing at one another, and making I think as silly a figure, as was necessary. There we sat two long hours, and I was weary'd to Death. However for one Comfort, I had a little dish of Scandal with Betsey Cranch, who was as much fatigued as I. At length we all return'd to our Respective homes; for which I was not a Little thankful.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0014

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-15


We had this day, two young Gentlemen, to dine with us. Mr. Saml. Brooks from the Academy, at Exeter, where they have at present a vacation for three weeks; and Sam: Walker, my brother Charles's Chum, at College: their vacancy will not begin till next Wednesday, but he has obtained leave to come home already. Leonard White too, was here in the afternoon. He came home on Wednesday, returned on Thursday to Boston, and came { 341 } back last Evening. The Government of the University, would not give him leave of absence, so that he will not go to England at present. We had this afternoon some of the most extraordinary weather, I remember ever to have known. At about 3 o'clock afternoon, the Clouds look'd uncommonly yellow, and it grew so dark, that I could with difficulty read a small print: and although it was quite cold, it began to thunder. It call'd to the memory of most persons, the famous dark day, which happened in 1780,1 but which was much more remarkable than this. It cleared up however in some measure before Sun set, and the weather in the Evening was not disagreeable.
N.B. Miss Nancy did not go out of the House, once during the whole course of this day.
1. For accounts of the “dark day,” see Adams Family Correspondence, 3:355–356, 386–388.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0015

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-16


We had no minister to day, at our meeting house. Nancy went to the other in the forenoon, and Tommy in the afternoon. I stayd at home all day. Miss Hazen, has been very unwell, for some days past, and had this afternoon, one of her teeth drawn. I wish she could be persuaded to take care of them: The want of proper attention to the teeth, is an universal failing in this Country, and is very hurtful both to the beauty, and the Health of our Ladies.
Mr. Thaxter last night, promised to come, and dine with us to day, but, went over, to meeting at Bradford. I forgot last Sunday to mention, that we had Mr. Moody of Pelham, to preach here, and I attended forenoon, and afternoon. A very sober preacher, who made use of a vast Quantity of Quotations.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0016

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-17


There happened a very considerable alteration in the weather, during the course of the last Night. Yesterday the weather was uncommonly warm, and has been to day very cold; more like winter than any we have yet had. In the afternoon, Leonard White came up, and waited upon Miss Nancy down to his father's house. I went soon after, and drank tea, there: Mrs. and Miss Williams the professor's Lady and Daughter,1 were there upon a visit. Miss Williams, is tall and pretty, that is all I can say, of her, after so transient a view: an intimate friend of { 342 } Nancy's: they appear'd both very much pleased to see one another. There was in the Evening considerable Company; who they were is easily guess'd. At eight o'clock I return'd. Miss Hazen spent the remainder of the Evening at Mr. Duncan's.
1. Jane Kilbourn Williams and Jane, the wife and daughter of Prof. Samuel Williams, Hollis Professor of Mathematics and Natural and Experimental Philosophy, 1780–1788 (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 15:134–146).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0017

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-18


This morning I rose about half an hour before the Sun, and walk'd two or three miles before breakfast. Spent half an hour, with Mr. Thaxter at his office. After breakfast went down to Mr. White's and there agreed with them in what manner to go to Newbury. Dined with them, and at about half after two, Mr. J: Duncan,1 set out with Miss White, I with my Cousin and Leonard, on horse back. We cross'd the ferry about 3 miles off, and at about 5, we got to Newbury; we went to Mr. Dalton's, who was not then at home. We found it exceedingly cold on the road, and both Leonard, and I had forgot our Surtouts, for which we suffer'd, and I dare say this Circumstance, will teach us more prudence another time, more effectually than a sermon would. Mr. Dalton return'd to tea, and we spent the Evening there. His eldest Daughter, Ruth, is the fattest Person of her age I ever saw. Moderately speaking I suppose, her circumference equal to her height, and she is not short. She is but little turn'd of 18 years. Mr. Dalton has three other Daughters, one of whom is unwell. I have not for a long while seen a family, that has struck me so agreeably, as this. Mr. Dalton, was my father's classmate at College, and has been his friend ever since.2 He is universally affable and polite, and unites to an high degree the gentleman with the scholar. His [wife] has something in her Countenance, which would authorize any one at first sight, to pronounce, her amiable and benovelent.

Of manners gentle, and affections mild.

The Children all seem to inherit, the soft, placid turn of mind which distinguishes both the parents. Who after seeing such a family, as this can relish the idle Pomp and Pageantry of a Court. He who could must have ideas of happiness, very different from mine.
{ 343 }
We all slept, at Mr. Dalton's. Mr. Duncan, Leonard and I in one Chamber.
1. James Duncan Jr., son of the Haverhill merchant and brother of Betsy (James Duncan Phillips, “James Duncan and Son: Merchants, Capitalists, and Chain Store Operators,” Essex Inst., Hist. Colls., 89:51 [Jan. 1953]).
2. Tristram Dalton, a Newburyport merchant and member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, 1782–1788, later served briefly as a U.S. senator. Dalton and JA corresponded over many years (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 13:569–578; JA, Earliest Diary, p. 67–68).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0018

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-19


We went out between 9 and 10 this morning, in order to take, a walk, and look at the troops, for this day there happened to be a regimental muster here, and training day for the militia. When we went out we had no idea of being gone more than an hour, but it was near two before we return'd. 10 Companies from Newbury, march'd about two miles out, and met 7 others from Almesbury [Amesbury]. There were in all, I imagine about a thousand men under arms. All the officers and the artillery Company composed of 39 men, were in a dark blue uniform, faced with scarlet: the troops were not in any uniform. They paraded tolerably well, all things consider'd, though it would take I imagine considerable time to make Prussian troops of them. The Coll. Lieutt. Coll. and Adjudant were on white horses. There was none of the officers that appeared so much to advantage as the adjutant, a joiner by trade, named Herriman. Many officers who have from their childhood brought up in regular armies, would not appear more graceful or show more dignity at a parade, than this person did. Some men whatever their Station in Life may be, have a natural grace and elegance, which never leave them; others though possess'd of the highest advantages, and train'd from their Infancy to the Science of politeness, can never acquire that easy agreeable manner which has so great a tendency:

To make men happy and to keep them so.1

When the two parties had join'd after a short pause, they march'd all together back into the town, and we left them. We dined at Mr. Dalton's, but he was so unwell, that he could not favour us with his Company. He caught yesterday a bad cold, at New town, a seat which he owns, about half way between this and Haverhill. Mr. Symmes2 dined with us, a young Gentleman, { 344 } whose manners are very easy and agreeable. At about 4. we proceeded in the order we went yesterday, to return home; we got to Mr. White's house, just before dark. I came from the ferry on horseback. Spent the Evening very agreeably, there, and return'd home, at about 9 o'clock. Found Mr. Thaxter there, but he soon after went away.
1. Horace, Epistles, Bk. I, Ep. vi, line 2 (Satires, Epistles and Ars Poetica, transl. Fairclough, p. 286, 287).
2. William Symmes, an Andover lawyer and son of Rev. William Symmes (John Adams Vinton, The Symmes Memorial. A Biographical Sketch of Rev. Zechariah Symmes . . . with a Genealogy and Brief Memoirs of Some of His Descendants . . ., Boston, 1873, p. 59–61).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0019

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-20


Spent the whole day at home. Miss Nancy spent the afternoon and evening at Mr. Duncan's. In the beginning of the Evening my uncle and Aunt arrived, although they were not expected before to-morrow. I am rejoyced at it, for the time they have been gone has appeared long to me, and somewhat dull. My Aunt brought me Letters from London, as two vessels have arrived. I have two from my Mother, which excite my curiosity to an high degree;1 and it cannot be gratified without those from my Sister, which I hope will come by the Post to morrow. I know not, that I was ever so impatient, and I cannot Reason myself out of it.
1. AA to JQA, 11, 23 Aug.; also received was one from William Vans Murray to JQA, 2 Aug., all in Adams Papers (JQA to AA2, 1–22 Oct., Adams Papers). JQA knew some decision had been made about Royall Tyler, but not yet exactly what. In the first of AA's letters to her son, she wrote that he would be surprised by the contents of some of the letters arriving in packets, but added that “at the same time you will approve the wise conduct of the writer [AA2] who has shewn a firmness of mind and prudence which do her honour. Be Silent! We are all rejoiced because it came of her own accord free and unsolicited from her, and was the result I believe of many Months anxiety as you were witness.” For AA2's letter, which was being concluded as AA wrote, see entry for 29 Oct. (below). AA2 wrote a one-sentence letter to Tyler breaking the engagement, returning his miniature and letters, and asking that he give hers to Richard Cranch (JA, Earliest Diary, p. 27).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0020

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-21


Stormy weather all day. It is a very lucky circumstance, that Mr. and Mrs. Shaw return'd yesterday, as they would have had a very disagreeable time to day. In the morning I went down to Mr. White's with the Chaise, for my Cousin, who came to spend the day, and will not return this Night, as the Storm rather increases than otherwise.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0021

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-22


The weather has been all day, pretty much the same as it was yesterday, an high wind, with incessant rain. It begins however this evening to abate in some measure. My Cousin was troubled very much all this afternoon, with the Head-ache a Complaint she is much subject [to]. I have been struck with the contrast between the two young Ladies that are now under this Roof. Eliza, is about 21. Her complexion is dark, and her face, though not beautiful, has a sweetness, and benign candour in it, which my gothic taste prefers vastly, to that insipid thing called beauty. Her eye expresses the exquisite Sensibility of her heart. Perhaps this is too great for her own happiness, but although I think that feeling so keenly for the distress of others, may be productive of pains without which a person would be happier, yet I believe that this quality, (especially in a Lady) is the most amiable of all those in the human heart. Her imagination has much vivacity, but has not been spoilt by unmeaning novels, or immoral plays. She is fond of reading, but of that reading which tends to cultivate, and improve, as well as to entertain and delight the mind, and she knows how to improve what she reads. Her affability and good nature, endear her to those who are acquainted with her, and must always be pleasing to a Stranger. This would be thought a panegyric, not a Character, by any person unacquainted with her, but I shall not be accused of partiality by those, who have an opportunity of examining into the truth of it.
Nancy, is only 17. She had the misfortune of losing her Father, while she was very young indeed. She is not a regular beauty, but has one of the most expressive Countenances, I have ever seen; her shape is uncommonly fine, and her eye seems to have magic in it. She boarded, for a considerable time with Mrs. Sheaffe in Boston, and there, had a great number of admirers, when she was too young to distinguish between the sincere friend, and the pretended Lover. She acquired unawares a fondness for being admired, which I am mistaken if she has entirely thrown off. By seeing a great deal of Company, she has been brought to believe she cannot be contented at home, and to desire to shine in a large circle. She asserts in the most positive manner that her heart is entirely free from any engagement, yet she suffers the world to suppose, and to publish that she is upon the point of being connected with a gentleman in this place, and I am { 346 } perswaded it would give her pain, was he to pay his addresses to any other Lady. Yet her heart is kind, tender and benevolent; and was she sensible of the pain she causes, she would be the first to condemn herself. She will listen with attention to advice, and hear her conduct censur'd without being offended. With a large share of wit, she has an inexhaustible fund of good Nature; she has an uncommon flow of Spirits, but can be properly serious if an occasion requires. She reads much, but I fear not with so much advantage, as she would, had she not been drawn so young into the stream of Dissipation. When time shall convince her, of those errors, which she has unavoidably fallen into, she will I am perswaded free herself from them, and then she will be an honour and an ornament to her sex.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0022

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-23


Attended the meeting forenoon, and afternoon. After tea, I went down with my Cousin to Mr. White's. We met Leonard at the door; he was just coming up to my uncle's, but went back when we got there. Staid but a few minutes there, and when I return'd found Mr. Thaxter and Mr. Redington there: the Storm subsided in the Course of the last night, but the weather to day has been hazy, and disagreeable. I never saw in Europe, saw it Storm and reign 48 hours at a time, with incessant violence. It is however not uncommon in this Country: especially at this Season of the year.
The river is exceeding high, and will probably rise much higher still, in the Course of a day or two. There was yesterday a man belonging to this town, drown'd between here and Newbury.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0023

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-24


The river has risen higher than was ever known, Insomuch that the great Street is in many places full of water. I have been twice down to day to see it. The Current is very swift, and wafts down a greater number of stumps of trees, and logs of wood. There are a number of boats continually going out, and bringing back this wood. If the piece is not mark'd it is entirely the perquisite of the Person who gets it. If there is a mark on it, only one quarter belongs to the finder. Many People up in the Country send down trees in this manner, to have boards made here. One { 347 } quarter is deducted for the recoverer of the log, and one quarter for the miller who saws it so that one half remains for the original possessor. This is the cheapest way of sending, the trees, but great numbers, pass by without being caught, and are carried out to sea. This afternoon, there was another man drown'd near here.
Went and spent an hour at Mr. White's. The more I see of this family the more I am pleased with it. It would inspire a Courtier with fondness for domestic happiness. They are at present uneasy because Mrs. White is very unwell: we did not see her. We left Betsey and Peggy Duncan there and Mr. Thaxter, at about 7 and return'd home. The Weather has been chilly the greatest part of the day, but grew very warm in the Evening. At about 11. at night there was a thunder shower, with a great deal of hail, but the thunder was not heavy.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0024

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-25


The river begins at length to fall, but rose, continually, till this morning; and was much higher than it ever was before. A shop on the banks, was yesterday carried off, run a foul, of a vessel on the stocks, and dismounted her. Much damage has been done by this uncommon freshet.
I this day concluded the greek Grammar, for which I am heartily thankful. I shall immediately begin upon the Greek testament.
This afternoon, Lucy, and Billy Cranch, and my brother Charles, arrived here. There is a vacancy now at the University, for a fortnight, and my brother will spend the remainder of it here. My Cousins stopp'd at Mr. White's, and I went down there to meet them. We soon return'd back all together, and spent the evening. I had not been with both my brothers together, these six years. The meeting was a very happy one; it made me wish for another. Miss Nancy went out yesterday morning to spend the week.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0025

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-26


I was greatly disappointed to find, that neither of my Cousins nor my brother had any Letters for me from Europe. Surely my Sister did not let both opportunities slip. I began to day upon the { 348 } Testament but shall not I fear proceed far this week. Company in the afternoon to drink tea.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0026

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-27


This morning Miss Nancy return'd, upon hearing Lucy Cranch, was here, as they are very intimate together; not from a similarity of character however, for Lucy, has still more gravity and seriousness in her disposition, than her Sister. Every person I believe has, in some measure, a double Character; the one implanted by nature, and the other form'd by education. A Character naturally vicious, may by proper training, be led in the right path, and a mind originally excellent, may be injured, by an erroneous method of raising it. How fortunate are those, who enjoy both the blessings! and I know of nobody who has them to a greater degree, than both of my Cousins. They have been taught to admire, and to know, what is useful, and durable, and not to spend three quarters of their time thinking, how they shall do, to be stared at the fourth. Mr. Thaxter and Leonard White dined with us; in the afternoon, Mr. Shaw, and the Ladies went down and drank tea at Doctor Saltonstall's. We went out on a gunning party, but had not, any great success. Spent part of the evening at Mr. White's, and part, at Mr. Duncan's, where I had not yet been. Felt very dull all the evening, owing to a number of circumstances. Mr. Duncan supped here.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0027

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-28


This morning My two Cousins left us, to return to Braintree, at about 9. Nancy, and Cousin Betsey, went down to Mr. White's; So that our house was very considerably thinn'd. Mrs. Shaw spent the afternoon out. In the Evening Charles and myself went and stayd an hour at Mr. Duncan's. Found Mr. Thaxter there. The weather is uncommonly mild for the Season; I was obliged to make a fire last Fall, in France, by the middle of this month, and I have, not as yet felt the necessity of one, here, although the Season is further advanced and the winters are colder, than there.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0028

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-29


I began to give over all hopes of receiving any Letters from my Sister by the last Vessels, but this morning while we were at { 349 } Breakfast A large packet came in from Boston; inclosing me a very long Letter, with the account untill the 15th. of August. The pleasure I received was enhanced, by having it when it was unexpected. But it has not satisfied me, upon one subject, which gives me still a great deal of anxiety. Doubts, hopes, and fears alternately rise in my Breast, and I know not what to Conclude. The subject is of great importance to me, as it regards the happiness of a Sister, for whom I have the tenderest and sincerest affection.1 Between 12 and 1 I went down to Mr. White's, and read my Letter to the Ladies. Stay'd and dined there. Spent part of the afternoon with Mr. Thaxter: he gave me a piece of information which surprised me very much, but which I sincerely hope to be true. Nancy came home, this Evening. I have been endeavouring for some time past, to climb, up some steps upon the hill of the muses but, Boileau says with great truth

C'est en vain qu'au Parnasse un téméraire auteur

Pense de l'art des vers atteindre la hauteur

S'il n'a reçu du ciel, l'influence secrete,

Si son astre en naissant ne l'a formé Poete.2

The hill I fear is by far too slippery for me.
1. This is AA2's 32-page letter dated 4 July–11 Aug. (Adams Papers), but it contains no mention of her breaking the engagement with Royall Tyler.
2. Nicholas Boileau-Despréaux, “L'Art poetique,” from Oeuvres choisies, 2 vols., Paris, 1777, 2:[3], a copy of which is at MQA with JQA's bookplate and MS signature with the date 1781. JQA quotes the first four lines of the first song, line three of which should read: “S'il ne sent point du ciel.”

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0029

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-30


Attended the meeting forenoon and afternoon; in the morning Cousin Betsey came, here, and spent the day with us. I return'd with her after tea, and found nobody at home, at Mr. White's. Nancy and Charles went in the afternoon to the other meeting-house. Mr. Smith, after an absence of near two months, return'd home, a day or two since. Mr. Hunt spent the evening here; a gentleman from Boston, who it is said comes to take one of the ladies from Haverhill. Miss Becca White1 is the person; Common fame, gives to Mr. J: Duncan the title of his rival; But common fame, is so fond of making matches, that there is no knowing how to depend upon it.
Rain in the Evening.
{ 350 }
1. Rebecca White, daughter of “Squire” Samuel White, married James Duncan Jr. in 1790 (Daniel Appleton White and Annie Frances Richards, The Descendants of William White, of Haverhill, Mass. . . ., Boston, 1889, p. 27).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0030

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-31


Mr. Allen, and Mr. Quarles,1 two clergymen, dined here to day. In the afternoon Charles went over to Bradford, to visit Walker, his Chum: We spent the Evening, and supp'd at Mr. White's; there were several ladies and gentlemen from Boston there: Charles made it so late before he came from Bradford that he did not go with us. It was about 10. when we return'd home. The Company at Mr. White's propose returning to-morrow to Boston; One of the Ladies appeared very impatient to be gone, and I believe had particular Reasons, for wishing it.
The Weather is still very mild for the Season. I do not find a fire necessary as yet.
1. Jonathan Allen was minister at Bradford, Mass.; probably Francis Quarles, minister at Hamilton, Mass. (MH-Ar:Quinquennial File; Historical Catalogue of Brown University, 1764–1904, Providence, R.I., 1905).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0013-0001

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-01

Tuesday November 1st. 1785.

Walker came over, and dined here to day. In the afternoon all the family, except my brother Tom, and myself went to Mr. Redington's. They pressed me to go too, but I wish to go as little into Company, while I am here as possible. An hundred things which I can neither foresee, nor prevent, draw me away from my studies and delay them: but where I can help it, I will not suffer them to be interrupted. Time, is too precious a thing to be trifled with, and I have already lost but too much.
This morning Mr. Thaxter set out, for Salem, where the Court is now setting: he will not return before next Saturday.
Betsey Cranch spent the day with us.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0013-0002

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-02


Young Mr. Symmes lodged here last Night. This morning before breakfast My Brother Charles left us, for Cambridge, as the fall vacancy ends to day. He went with Leonard White, and Walker, and several other Gentlemen and Ladies who were going to Boston. I have lost in Leonard and Charles two good friends who in my leisure hours were great sources of pleasure { 351 } to me; but the separation from them is necessary, and from that I must derive my Consolation. Finished the first chapter of John. I hope I shall not continue to proceed as slowly as I have done; and I believe it is in Learning Languages, as the french proverb says, il n'y a que le premier pas qui coûte. Cloudy, chilly weather all day; in the Evening it rain'd considerably. Very stormy in the Night.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0013-0003

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-03


Mr. Shaw went to the lecture of a neighbouring brother, and dined out; I was pretty close, all day, and did not go out of the house. Events cannot be interesting, when one is in this Situation, and few Reflections can be made, by one entirely employ'd in acquiring those of others.
I feel a degree of Melancholy which may be owing to my having been so much confined these three or four days, but I rather imagine proceeds from another Cause. When our Reason is at variance with our heart, the mind cannot be in a pleasing State: I have heretofore more than once, been obliged to exert all my Resolution, to keep myself free from a Passion, which I could not indulge, and which would have made me miserable had I not overcome it. I have escaped till now more perhaps owing to my good Fortune, than to my own firmness, and now again, I am put to a trial. I have still more Reason, than I ever had, to repress my feelings; but I am also perswaded, that I never was in greater danger; one Circumstance there is, which gives me hopes; and if it takes place, will put an end to my danger and my fears.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0013-0004

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-04


Reading over the Salem paper to day, I found an account of the death, and funeral of Mr. Hardy, a delegate in Congress from the State of Virginia, a gentleman, from whom I received the politest treatment while I was in New York, but what is of Consequence, a firm and steady friend to his Country, a mild Republican, and a worthy man. In the evening Mr. Thaxter return'd from Salem, where he heard of the decease of my aunt Tufts, whose excellent Qualities endeared her, to her relations and to all her acquaintance: The continual occasion which every person has to reflect upon the slender thread of life, has drawn from great and ingenious minds every observation, that can be made respecting mor• { 352 } tality: happy is it in this aweful seperation from those that are near to us, when we have only to grieve for our own sakes. What a source of Consolation in these Circumstances, is the perswasion, that our friends, have gained in the Change, an advantage incomparably greater than our loss. Ah! what can the reflections of an Atheist be, at the death of a dear friend; (if a mind of that cast is capable of friendship) what Idea, can support him: the mind which contributed once so greatly to his happiness; he supposes to be annihilated with the body, it animated, and he can derive no soothing thoughts from resignation to a Providence the existence of which he denies. Just Heaven! whatever misfortunes it may be my lot to be afflicted with hereafter, grant, that the frenzy of infidelity, may never be of the number! Mrs. Tufts died on Sunday the 30th. of last month. A few days before, when not only she herself, but all those around her were in hourly expectition of her dissolution, her only Son1 to whom she has always been the tenderest, the most affectionate of mothers set off on a journey: and has nature given to any human hearts, the coldness, and the hardness of marble, who, that is blest with the smallest degree of Sensibility, would not shudder at the idea, of abandoning a dying parent, was it for the dominion of the world? Heaven, be praised! I know only this Character in this family, that is deprived, of every amiable virtue of the heart.
Mr. Hardy died October 17th. and in him these States have lost, a patriot, from whose virtues, they would I doubt not, have derived great advantages, had the all wise ruler of Events, thought proper to continue him longer in the world. The respect shown him, after his death by the august body, of which he was a member, proves how much he was esteemed and beloved by them.
1. Cotton Tufts Jr. (1757–1833), AA's cousin and longtime postmaster of Weymouth, whom JQA later described as “a man who has lived nearly to the age of four score; having had a liberal education, but never emerged from obscurity and retirement” (JQA, Diary, 6 May 1833).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0013-0005

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-05


Eliza Spent the day with us. I accompanied her home, in the Evening, and spent half an hour at Mr. White's. Miss Betsey Duncan, return'd this Evening from Boston, and brought me a Letter from my Cousin Cranch.1 He attended Mrs. Tufts's funeral last Tuesday, and very justly admires the Doctor's Behav• { 353 } iour upon the occasion: it was that of a Christian, and of a Philosopher. He had always lived in an uninterrupted union with his Lady; and though fully Sensible of his loss, he did not show it, by tears, or by any outward manifestation. He was not dressed in black, considering a mourning suit but as the trappings and the suits of woe.2
1. Not found.
2. Hamlet, Act I, scene ii, line 86.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0013-0006

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-06


Attended the meeting, forenoon, and afternoon. Went home with my Cousin. Was employ'd all the Evening, in writing to my Sister.1
The Weather somewhat chilly.
1. Letter not found; undoubtedly the same to which he refers on 8 Nov. (below).

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

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-07


Mr. Thaxter went again this morning to Newbury, to attend the trial of a number of Pirates, lately taken.1 I wish'd much to go with him, on that account, and for several other Reasons; but, I was afraid of interrupting my Studies, which at this Time, cannot suffer any loss of time; and they must be attended to, before every thing else. N. B. Guardian N: 49.2
1. Several men who had taken possession of the schooner Amity off the Essex co. coast in mid-August were captured and indicted a month later. In mid-November two were convicted of robbery and felony; three were declared not guilty (Massachusetts Spy, 8, 22 Sept., 17, 24 Nov.).
2. An essay on the “natural” and “fantastical” “pleasures which constitute human happiness.” JQA may have used the two-volume edition of The Guardian, London, 1745, 1:213–217, listed among his books in 1784 and now at MQA ([Christian Lotter], Inventory of JQA's books, 6 Nov. 1784, Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0013-0008

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-08


My Aunt spent the afternoon at Mr. White's. I was not outside of the gate once. Closed my Letter to my Sister N:8.1 But I shall not be able to send it before next Week.
1. Letter not found. Extant letters to his sister suggest that his reference here is misnumbered and might have been letter thirteen. Letter eight was dated 29 Aug.–7 Sept. (Adams Papers), and JQA had sent at least four other letters to AA2 by this time. For another inexplicable instance of misnumbering, see entry for 28 Nov. (below).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0013-0009

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-09


Drank tea at Mrs. West's,1 where our ladies spent the afternoon. I afterwards went home with Eliza; went in to Mr. White's. Mr. and Mrs. Duncan2 were there. This Lady, in Consequence, of a fit of sickness, has for these two or three months been deprived of her Reason: a little before 7 she went home with her husband; about half an hour after, Mr. J Duncan, came in, and enquired if she was there: we were immediately alarmed, and I went up with Miss Peggy, to Mr. Duncan's. The whole neighbourhood was stirring in a short time, and she has been fruitlessly search'd after, for three hours. The Circumstances of her disappearing, are very singular; Mr. Duncan had not been 2 minutes from her, when she was first miss'd, and she went off without any Cloak. It is generally feared that she went to the River with the intention to put an end to her existence; as she has already attempted it twice. The hopes conceived are but small: the whole family, are deeply affected, and in a State of Suspense, more dreadful than a certainty of the worst could be: Mrs. White, who is the Lady's Sister, is in great distress. Peggy fears the worst, and is prepared for it. If she is gone, said she to me, as we were going up the hill, there is a god, who rules all with infinite Wisdom; we must hope for the best, and submit to whatever he may inflict upon us. Such Reflections, are often made by persons when their passions are cool, but such philosophical and Christian resignation is not common in so young a mind, when it receives a sudden, and violent shock like this. I admired it exceedingly.
1. Possibly Joanna Kast, wife of Henry West, a Haverhill merchant (Haverhill, Vital Records;Essex Inst., Hist. Colls., 71:91–92 [Jan. 1935]).
2. Elizabeth Leonard Duncan was the second wife of James Sr. and stepmother of the Duncan children (James Duncan Phillips, “James Duncan and Son: Merchants, Capitalists and Chain Store Operators,” Essex Inst., Hist. Colls., 89:51 [Jan. 1953]).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0013-0010

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-10


My Uncle, went out, early this morning, and when he return'd put an end to our hopes with Respects to Mrs. Duncan, and realized our fears. She was found dead, in the River, near the shore, in a place where there is not more than two foot of water. In this distressing Calamity, it is in some measure a consoling circumstance that she was found: the family must necessarily have suf• { 355 } fered beyond measure, had she never been heard of after she disappeared. I never felt my Spirits so depress'd, as they have been all this day. A Sentiment of Humanity in general, always makes me feel, for a disaster of this sort, but I was never before witness to one, when my attachment to an Amiable family in particular, has heightened the natural feelings to such a degree.
The God, who disposes every thing, for the best, when he bereaves an human creature thus of its Reason, does it perhaps with a view to make the rest sufficiently sensible of the inestimable blessing he has bestow'd upon them. For such is the mind of man, that it can never be grateful for the gifts it possesses, unless it sees the dreadful Consequences attending the want of them; and it is adversity that makes the good man.

The ways of Heaven, are dark and intricate,

Puzzled in mazes, and perplex'd with errors.

My Aunt, and Nancy spent the day at Mr. Duncan's. Mrs. Shaw, was greatly affected, but her conduct proved, this was not the first time, her Sensibility, had been thus called forth. Nancy was distress'd to a great degree: she could not contain her grief; it has heightened my opinion of her: the heart that feels so keenly for other's woes, may be led into errors, but never can be unamiable.
Mr. Thaxter return'd to day from Salem. He is deeply interested in this misfortune; and bears it with the fortitude, for which he is distinguished, and which he has often, been called upon to exert.
He left Salem this morning, and the jury upon the affair, had not then given their Verdict. He seems to be of opinion that they were not guilty of Piracy; but thinks it probable they will be condemned.

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

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-11


Attended Mrs. Duncan's funeral, in the afternoon: Mr. Smith made a prayer, very proper and adapted to the Circumstances. There were as I imagine, about 40 couple attending. As we return'd, several couple went out of the row as they came to their Respective homes. I was with my Cousin, and went in to Mr. White's; where I spent a couple of hours. Mrs. McKinstry,1 a Sister of Mrs. Duncan, was there: and it was a solemn, mournful { 356 } time with them. Most of the Company returnd to Mr. Duncan's house. My Aunt spent the evening with Mrs. Payson.
1. Mrs. Priscilla Leonard McKinstry, widow of loyalist Dr. William McKinstry, of Taunton, was the sister of both Mrs. Elizabeth Duncan and Sarah LeBaron White, the second wife of John White Sr., of Haverhill (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 6:326; William Willis, “Genealogy of the McKinstry Family, With A Preliminary Essay on the Scotch-Irish Immigrations to America,” NEHGR, 12:325–326 [Oct. 1858]).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0013-0012

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-12


All day at home. Miss Nancy came in the Evening, but did not stay more than half an hour: she has been since Thursday morning, at Mr. Duncan's, and proposes staying there, all next Week. Though I cannot conceal from myself, that this gives me pain at present, yet I can sincerely say, I wish she would in this manner keep away, week after week from this house, untill I leave it: In the Evening, I was reminded, of the great disadvantages, a youth must labour under, who suffers himself to be subdued by the tender passion. I needed not the Caution; and shew that I was fully sensible of it. I consider it the greatest misfortune; that can befall a young man to be in Love. Does not Reason alone suffice to show that, when the Passions are high and the blood is warm, it is impossible to make a Choice, with the prudence necessary upon such an occasion. Do we not see daily men, of great Sense and experience, and at an age when discretion should guide all their actions, fall into fatal errors, in this case, how much more exposed then, is a person incapable of Reflection, and led on by passion. May it be my lot, at least for ten years to come, never to have my heart exclusively possessed by any individual of the other sex. A man courting appears to me at any time of life, much below his natural dignity; but in a youth it is exceedingly absurd and ridiculous.

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

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-13


The late misfortune, was the subject of our afternoon sermon. Nobody from the family was present, as they attend Mr. Smith's meeting. My Cousin, was at ours the latter part of the day, and dined with us. Mr. Redington, spent part of the Evening, here. Mr. Shaw was called out, upon two occasions, very different from one another. To attend three persons in one family, at the point of death, and to marry a couple: thus it is, while one part of { 357 } the world, are crumbling to dust, others, are feasting and rejoying and hastening to the same situation.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0013-0014

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-14


I pass'd half an hour before dinner at Mr. Thaxters office: at home all the rest of the day, with the same scene perpetually renew'd: A person that passes the days in study and the nights in sleep knows little of variety. The rules of the house, are exceedingly regular, and must be strictly attended to. Breakfast at 8. dinner at 1: prayers at 9 and retirement a short time after, are the Laws: and as I think every person ought to pay due respect to the Regulations of the house he is in, I have never been out of this after 10 at night, since I have been, here: but once after 9. Severity in this article, is absolutely necessary in a Clergyman's house: such is the attention every gentleman of that profession, must pay to the prejudices of ignorance, and enthusiasm. In short the discouragement every person, inclined to the study of divinity must meet with in this Country has restrained many of late years from following that line of life, and will lessen the number very greatly in a little Time. The laws exclude them from any civil employment, the Salaries allow'd them are very small, and in many places miserably paid; so that one can have no hopes of gratifying, ambition or prospects of fortune, yet they are subjected to every ill natured reflection, that envy or malice can invent. Every individual seems to think he has the direction, and superintendency of their Conduct. In this land of freedom, they are the only persons that enjoy it not; and they have not like the Roman Vestals, the Satisfaction of having uncommon Respect paid them; as a reward for, all these disagreeable Circumstances. I think proper care ought to be taken, to prevent the Clergy, as a body from growing too rich or too powerful; but I think it both false and unjust policy, to make odious distinctions between them, and other Citizens.
Weather quite cold to day.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0013-0015

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-15


All day at home. My Uncle, was applied to last Saturday by a man, to do a little jobb for him, as he term'd it, which was to marry him. So he went in the afternoon: My Aunt and Eliza went in the Chaise.
{ 358 }
I made in the Evening a few reflections, which I had not time to write down, now, but, must remember to do it some other day. The weather begins to grow cold, and it is probable, we shall have Snow very soon; it is now full time, for there is often snow on the ground here, by the middle of October.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0013-0016

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-16


Two persons in the town, died in the Course of this day. A young Woman by the name of Bradly, and a Grandson of Dr: Cast, a boy about 11 years old. He was one of my brothers Companions, and died in Consequence, of having leapt from too great an height.
Eliza dined here, and went in the afternoon with my aunt to see Mr. Adams1 a neighbouring minister. I pass'd the Evening at Mr. White's. There was some Company there: Mrs. White is still somewhat Melancholy. Peggy in as good Spirits as could be expected. Upon the whole it was an agreeable evening. When I got home, I found Mr. Allen, at the house; he will lodge here, this night. Mr. Thaxter went this day to Newbury, and return'd. I saw him at Mr. Duncan's as I came by the house.
1. Phineas Adams, minister of the Haverhill Third or West Church, 1771–1801 (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 15:150–151).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0013-0017

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-17


The weather was very stormy, all the morning; but began to clear up, at about noon, and in the afternoon it was pleasant. Mr. and Mrs. Shaw, attended the funeral of the youth that died yesterday morning; my brother went as bearer: Mr. Thaxter, called, in the afternoon, but made only a short stay; he cannot spare but a few minutes at a time, and it is not to be wondered at. The Salem Paper, mentions a Vessel arrived from London in Boston. I hope for Letters.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0013-0018

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-18


There was Company lodged here last night, but went early in the forenoon away. Eliza, dined, and passed the afternoon, here. Mr. Shaw attended the funeral of the young woman, lately dead. Several Ladies were here in the afternoon, and Evening.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0013-0019

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-19


The whole day at my studies as usual. In the afternoon I read in Watt's Logic,1 as my Saturday afternoon's, are employ'd in reading English. I began this, last week, and am pretty well pleased with the work, though I have not as yet made any great progress in it. There are a number of observations which were quite new to me, and the most of them indisputable: some few I could not well comprehend although they may be equally clear. In the Evening Mr. Thaxter and Eliza Cranch, paid a short visit. Mr. Thomas2 went out with his gun, a very favourite amusement with him. The Post brought me no Letters, last Evening; there came none by the vessel that arrived lately at Boston. Eliza, had a large Packet from her friends in the Town, and was sit quite in a flutter. Nancy was to come home this Evening, but has determined to stay a few days longer.
1. Isaac Watts, Logick: Or, The Right Use of Reason in the Enquiry After Truth . . ., London, 1725. No early editions of this work are in any of the Adams libraries.
2. Presumably TBA.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0013-0020

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-20


We had two sermons to day, upon a text from Proverbs: 19th. Chap: 20:v: Hear counsel and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end. The several instances of death, that have lately occurred in this town were not passed unnoticed. Two persons, both promising to be useful in the spheres assigned them, had been cut off in the bloom of youth; the divinity, often took from the world in this manner, those whose Characters were universally loved and esteemed, yet suffered others, that were entirely useless, or perhaps the bane of society, to continue. Those impious fools who pretend to disbelieve an over ruling providence, considered this as an argument in their favour. But what else was this than supposing, the author of Nature had as contracted views, and ideas, as their's. In truth I have often wondered how it happened, that a being whose mind is so exceedingly weak, that it cannot comprehend why a pebble thrown into the air should fall to the ground, can pretend to raise a doubt, whether there was a being, more wise, more exalted more powerful than himself. Any man will think, it impertinent and absurd in another to pronounce judgment, upon the plainest subject, if he does not understand it: and is it not still more ab• { 360 } surd to deny, what Nature cries aloud in all her works: when we must, all acknowledge, ourselves, entirely ignorant, of the secret springs that keep the machine of the world in play.
Mr. Shaw was absent a great part of the Evening; he was called to marry Dr. Woodbury to Miss Hannah Appleton. My Aunt attended the wedding. After meeting I went to Mr. White's and spent half an hour with them.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0013-0021

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-21


My Aunt and Eliza, went and took a ride in the afternoon. They drank tea at Judge Sargeant's, and I spent about an hour there. Went home with my Cousin, and stay'd the Evening at Mr. White's. His Lady is very unwell, and has been so a considerable time. She was recovering, when the fatal accident of her Sister happened; and I fear it has tended to occasion a relapse. She is possess'd of great Sensibility, and the disaster, must have been in a peculiar manner weighty to her. Mr. Thaxter came in soon after I did, and at about 8 in the Evening, came home with me, and pass'd half an hour here.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0013-0022

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-22


I have been very steady all day at My Studies, and have at length been able to go through an hundred verses in the Testament. The book is exceeding easy: the only difficulty I find is being obliged, to look words which takes up time. This Evening Miss Nancy at last made her appearance; Mr. Thaxter and Miss Betsey Duncan were here a few minutes in the Evening.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0013-0023

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-23


The weather has look'd snowy, for several days past, but has remained, in Statu quo, till this evening; Which is pretty stormy.

The cherish'd fields

Put on their winter robe of purest white.1

I am not fond of seeing this Robe; there is something so dreary so gloomy, to me, in looking, all around, to see a dull lifeless sameness, every where, that the first appearance of snow, is quite disagreeable to me.
{ 361 }
1. James Thomson, “The Seasons: Winter,” lines 232–233 (Poetical Works, ed. J. Logie Robertson, London, 1908, p. 194).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0013-0024

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-24


Thanksgiving day in the State of New Hampshire. Mr. and Mrs. Shaw spent it in the upper Parish: the meeting house of which, being, one half in this State, and one half in the other they keep both. Ours will be three weeks from this day.
I spent the whole evening at Mr. White's. Miss Priscilla McKinstry was there, a very pretty, agreeable young Lady. I read to them 2 or three of Mrs. Aikin's Poem's. I have seen, verses, not better than these from illustrious pens; but I saw little, that I thought soar'd much above mediocrity. Corsica, has some very pretty thoughts in it, but often falls into prose, which must be the case, when the Emphasis cannot be laid on the last syllable of the line. But Ladies ought to be, exempted from the severe scrutiny of Criticism, and we should be willing, only to praise and admire the productions of their Apollo; the groans of the tankard, is either above or beneath Criticism, I will not say which.1 Mrs. White is yet much indisposed.
1. “Corsica” and “The Groans of the Tankard” were written by Anna Letitia Aikin Barbauld (Works, 2 vols., London, 1825, 1:1–11, 23–28).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0013-0025

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-25


The Rev'd. Mr. True dined here: a person of a peculiar Character I am told, and from what I have seen of him to day I should have judg'd as much. At about 4 in the afternoon, my Uncle came in, and handed me, a noble Packet of Letters; 3 from My Mother 2 from my father, a long one from my Sister, and several others.1 It has made me as happy, (I will not say as a king,) as I can be. One Letter from Mamma, dated, as late as Octr. 5th. I went down in the Evening, and read them to My Cousin and Peggy White. I greatly regret that I have not time to write to my Parents, and my Sister so often as I should wish to. My Studies necessarily take up almost all, and I have not enough left for necessary relaxation, exclusive of all the writing, I should do. In short it appears to me, that was every minute, I have, an hour I should not be at a loss to employ it. And at this very minute the Bell rings for nine of Clock, when I had no Idea, of its being yet 8. { 362 } Snows and storms, highly this Evening: winter is coming forward with hasty stride.
1. These probably included: JA to JQA, 31 Aug., 9 Sept.; AA to JQA, 6, 12 Sept., 5 Oct.; and AA2 to JQA, 26 Aug.–13 Sept. (Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0013-0026

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-26


Finished the book of John, in the Testament, and was the Rest of the day, employ'd in answering my Letters. Inclosed the Marquis's letter to Mr. Breck, and wrote to Mr. Chaumont.1 Mr. Thaxter and Eliza dined with us. A fine day.
1. The availability of an abstract and a partial text for this letter is reported in Helen Cripe and Diane Campbell, comps. and eds., American Manuscripts, 1763–1815: An Index to Documents Described in Auction Records and Dealers' Catalogues, Wilmington, Del., 1977, No. 14386.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0013-0027

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-27


The forenoon discourse was upon Revelations, III. 15 and 16. I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot; I would thou wert cold or hot. So then, because thou art luke-warm, and neither cold, nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. A very good Sermon was delivered, to inculcate a proper Zeal for Religion, and to show, the evil Consequences, of a lukewarm disposition. In the afternoon the text was in James IV: 17th. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. There is an Idea, which I cannot imagine to be a just one, in any Case, but which seems to possess every religious sect, more or less. It is not carried so far, in what is called the Protestant religion as in most others, but I cannot but wish, it was wholly erased from all. We are the chosen few, is repeated continually, and I believe equally unreasonably by all. I will freely own, that the divinity, has wisely thought fit to involve himself in an obscurity impenetrable to mortals. But it is in my mind, a settled maxim that every Idea, tending to excite a doubt, of the perfect benevolence, of the supreme being, is a false one, and from this I draw the Conclusion, that any human creature, who seeks the general welfare of the Society he belongs to, does all the good, and as little harm, as is possible, and adheres to what he has been taught from his Infancy to be his duty, can never be exposed to the resentment of a good and wise god, whatever the mode of his worship may be.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0013-0028

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-28


In the forenoon I, began, upon Xenophon's Cryopaedia,1 and in the afternoon, upon the book of Matthew; closed in the Evening my N: 9 to my Sister.2 I have for about a month past, recited in the morning, with my brother in Virgil, and it is rather to me a relaxation, than a study. It is a general Observation, that mankind have too exalted ideas, of those goods they do not possess, and too low an opinion of them, when attained. But I believe, with Respect to Science, this maxim must be reversed. It is most commonly despised by the ignorant, but is well appreciated by those, who have overcome, the difficulties, that occur in the road to it. A youth seldom takes pleasure, in the first pursuit of those Studies, which afterwards afford him, the highest Entertainment. When I first went through Virgil, I was struck with many Beauties, which it is impossible to overlook, but the difficulty of understanding the passages, often overbalanced the Satisfaction, I then derived from them: but whenever I read over any part of this Author again I am abundantly rewarded, for all the pains I ever took, in becoming acquainted with him.
1. The Greek writer whose Cyropaedia, a historical novel in eight books, used Cyrus the Elder as a model statesman. The work, a staple of 18th-century college education, focuses on the maintenance of law and authority and political organization. There are several copies of the work in the Adams libraries at MB and MQA.
2. No letters written by JQA to AA2 between 29 Oct. 1785 and 15 March 1786 have been found. JQA has misnumbered this letter in his Diary, for no. 9 was his of 8–18 Sept. 1785 (Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0013-0029

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-29


The Ladies, went in the afternoon, to pay what is called, the wedding visit to Mrs. Woodbury: a mere ceremony, this, and I believe a very unmeaning one: there were four or five and twenty persons, there, to stare, at one another, for an hour, and then return home, to be the objects of each others observations: I did not go. Spent the evening at Mr. Dodge's, in Company with Mr. Audlin, a gentleman from Exeter, who looks, as if he was not to continue long in this world, a sociable, person, and of agreeable manners; Mr. James Duncan, Mr. Bil: and Mr. T. Osgood. The first is said to be a very sensible young man, and has something very soft in his looks and address: the other at least in his personal appearance, is somewhat in the other way, but I neither { 364 } know, nor have heard much said as to his Character. Mr. D. Tyler, at times, and in particular this Evening, an easy, good-natured laughing person, who observed that it was wrong in a gentleman to swear; Miss Abial (I think it is) Osgood, of whom I could make, neither this nor that, for in the course of the whole evening she opened her lips twice, to answer Questions: my good Mr. Thaxter, and the charming Nancy. Upon the whole it was as agreeable an Evening as I have spent for a long time. There was sociability and good humour, and no Cards. Between 9 and 10 we retired, and I found at home, a long Letter from my Sister, coming down to the 2d. of October.1 My obligations to write to her increase thus daily, and when I shall be able to fulfill them I know not.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0013-0030

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-30


The Ladies were out the afternoon. I spent the whole Evening with Mr. Thaxter, at his Office; and I regret I cannot spend more time with him than I do. Supped, at his lodgings; at Mrs. West's, a very good woman, as fond of hearing herself talk as other people are. Mr. Bil: Blodget was there, a droll, or who at least aims at being thought so: and his Conversation will divert one for half an hour, if not longer. He has been at Gofstown, some miles to the north of this, and says the Snow is four inches, deeper than it is here. The weather grows cold; and is now very clear. Mr. Thaxter came home with me.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0001

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-01

Thursday December 1st. 1785.

Several of the Ladies, and Gentlemen, went in a party to Methuen, about 10 miles distant, in slays. It being lecture day we had Mr. Adams, a minister of another parish in the town, Mr. True, and Mr. Parker, the present schoolmaster here, to dine. Mr. True preach'd the Sermon, and spoke well, though he was somewhat long. After lecture Miss Betsey and Miss Sukey Redington, came and drank tea with my Aunt; the first is tall, and pretty; rather an harsh Countenance, fond of scandal, I believe, as well as her Sister, but does not take such pains to conceal it. The other is older and has perhaps seen the Necessity of practising a little dissimulation. They seem to have directly opposite { 365 } ways to express the same Sentiments. Sukey's appearance, would at least denote good nature. She is very fat.
After waiting on them home, I step'd into Mr. Thaxter's office, and pass'd an hour there. From thence I went to Mr. White's, where most of the Company, that have been slaying were. I was much pleased with Mr. Bartlett's Conversation; I have heard, he is a person, of much knowledge, and extensive reading. I wish I could profit oftener by his Company. The cold has increased very considerably to day.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0002

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-02


I have got through in four mornings, the preface to the Cyropaedia, but it is a crabbed piece of business. The Stile of this author is said to be Beautiful: a person who understands as little of it as I do, cannot discover the graces, that fine language, communicates to Ideas. I can only perceive a very great simplicity; which it would not be proper for an author at this day to adopt. My Aunt and Nancy spent the afternoon out; Mr. Thaxter was up, here at about 9 o'clock; very much affected, by having just heard, that Dr. Levett1 an intimate acquaintance of his at Hingham, had drown'd himself. This is the third instance of suicide within these three weeks in this State, I never heard of so many in proportion, any where. I am equally surpriz'd and griev'd to find so much weakness, of mind, so frequently among my Countrymen that it argues an absolute deprivation of Reason, I will not say, but that it proves, a most cowardly, unmanly Spirit, there is no proof of. The Romans, are often brought to prove that it does not show a want of proper firmness and fortitude: but let it be remembered that their great Poet has said of those that hasten their own end

................... quam vellent aethere in alto

Nunc et pauperiem et duros perferre labores!2

1. Martin Leavitt, naval surgeon in the Revolution and physician in Hingham, Mass. (History of the Town of Hingham, 3 vols. in 4, Hingham, 1893, 1, pt. 2:317).
2. Aeneid, Bk. VI, lines 436–437. JQA owned several copies of Virgil's works at this time. In Joseph Warton's Latin and English edition (4 vols., London, 1778, purchased by JQA in 1783 and now at MQA) the lines are rendered “Oh! with what joy the wretches now would bear pain, toil, and woe, to breathe the vital air!” (3:186–187).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0003

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-03


Eliza dined here, and Mr. Mores,1 a relation of Miss Nancy's. Mr. Thaxter and Miss Duncan, drank tea. In the afternoon I continued reading Watts's logic, but to read such books, with much improvement, I believe a calmer state of mind is requisite, than I now possess. They require the deepest attention, and the most settled Reflection: and of this at present I am not capable. When I reason with myself and ask why I am not happy?, I cannot find an Answer. Such is humanity; when it is not depressed by real Evils, it must necessarily frame to itself imaginary ones: and such is the kindness of Providence, that when it afflicts us with the real, it commonly frees us from the others. Thankful am I, that all my present disagreeable feelings, arise from my own fancy, and those I fear are too small a balance, for the real goods I am blest with. My meaning here, must be obscure, to any one but myself; but I shall never be at a loss with respect to it.
1. Benjamin Moores, a Revolutionary officer and later a local official in Plattsburg, N.Y. (Chase, Hist. of Haverhill, p. 389, 640–641).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0004

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-04


Snowy weather, a great part of the day. My Aunt quite unwell. The Ladies did not attend the meeting. Sacrament day. The forenoon Sermon was adapted to the occasion. Hebrews VIII, 6th. But now he hath obtained a more excellent ministry, by, how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant which was established upon better promises. The afternoon text was in John XII. 26. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be; if any man serve me, him will my father honour. I have often wondered how a preacher, can continually produce two Sermons a week, without repeating almost perpetually the same thing: the sphere, in which they are limited being so contracted, and morality for the most part, the Subject they must speak upon. The fertility of the brain is as inconceivable a thing as the faculty of thinking itself. Rain'd all the Evening, and probably all the snow that fell in the morning, will be dissolv'd by to morrow.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0005

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-05


After passing all the day, at pretty Close Study, I went and spent the Evening at Mr. White's. Mr. Osgood, and Major Bart• { 367 } lett,1 with their Ladies, were there: I had at length, an Invitation from the former, to go to his House. The terms that subsist between his family and Mr. Shaw's, are such, that, I did not expect any notice from him: nor had I any right to expect it: but as a man possess'd of liberal Sentiments, his enmities do not extend further than persons. He is acknowledged to be a very Sensible, as well as an hospitable man; and Mr. Shaw often laments, that a reconciliation cannot take place. Found Mr. Thaxter here, when I return'd home: he is to set off on a journey to Boston, and Hingham, to-morrow morning. Mr. Marsh was here too. He is the eldest of 12 Children, of an old Lady in town, and it is remarkable, that 11 of the 12, are uncommonly Sensible, for the few advantages of education they have enjoy'd, as they are all mechanics. This man is between 60 and 70 years old. He was mentioning a person, who had an opinion of some religious point, different from his own. Now says he, he is very wrong.
Perhaps, said Mr. Shaw, he thinks you are wrong.
Ay, but I know he is.
If such a degree of certainty, is not Philosophical, at least a man is perhaps the happier for professing it. When I see People, says some French author, adoring the Image of a Saint, for its miracles, I pity them, and yet wish, I believed as firmly as they.
1. Probably Israel Bartlett, Haverhill goldsmith and Revolutionary officer, cousin of Bailey Bartlett (Chase, Hist. of Haverhill, p. 620–621).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0006

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-06


Miss Betsey Cranch came and stay'd here all day. Miss Nancy went out to day, and will spend the rest of the week, with some of her friends. Went with my Cousin to Mr. White's in the Evening. Mr. Ben: Blodget was there; but soon took his leave. There is something in this person that makes me, and Eliza smile, whenever we look at him. I don't doubt however but he is a very good sort of a youth.
I feel in much better spirits, than I have for a considerable time, and I hope, the gloom that has oppressed my mind, for some weeks, is now entirely dispelled. I have not that I know of, been ever, more contented, and happy, than I now feel myself; and I am now fully satisfied, that I have nothing to fear from a Quarter, which has given me a great deal of anxiety.

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

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-07


It snow'd all day; in the Evening it clear'd up, and grew very cold. Eliza, came in the morning, and on account of the Snow that has fallen, stays here to-night.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0008

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-08


A colder day, than I have experienced, for nearly these three years. It froze very hard in the night, and if this weather continues, we shall have very fine slaying. The cold has ruin'd my horse; for it is put him in such a situation, that I have no expectation that he will be alive three days hence. Immediately after dinner Eliza, went home; between 5 and 6. I went down to Major Bartlett's, and spent the Evening there. The two Miss Duncan's, P. White, E. Cranch, and N. Hazen; Mr. B. Osgood, J. Duncan, B. Mores, and myself, were all the Company. We play'd a rubber of whist, and yet I kept awake: the Evening was otherwise agreeably spent. I never saw Nancy Coquet it, quite so much; she seem'd really determined to outstrip herself. I really believe I have form'd too favourable an opinion of this girl: let me not however too hastily conceive prejudices against her. To judge Characters with impartiality, is by no means an easy task. Affection or Resentment, will almost always misrepresent things. These passions are the Jaundice of the mind, for they show every thing of the same colour. I wish to free myself from them, in as great a measure as I possibly can. At about 8 I came away, and waited on Miss B. Duncan home. Went into the house, and remained about half an hour there. The Weather seems to be a little more moderate now, than it has been in the Course of the day.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0009

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-09


The air is very temperate, in Comparison to that of yesterday. The river, was froze over in such a manner, that it was almost sufficient to bear a man's Weight: but it is now so different, that Mr. Peabody, came over this Evening in a boat: the closing of this River, is always a sudden affair. Mr. Duncan, and Mr. Payson, were here, in the Evening; and Mr. Ben Willis, a youth, about 17 years, old, who has so much sedateness, and steadiness, in his looks and manners, that he goes by the name of the young { 369 } Captain: I received a Horace, by the Post, from my Brother, to whom I sent for it last Week. I began upon the Odes, and went through the two first.1
1. In addition to reading Horace's Odes, JQA very likely began, but never completed, a translation. See the undated document in M/JQA/44, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 239, which contains a prose translation of the first three odes.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0010

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-10


Mr. I. Smith came over before dinner. He is to preach to-morrow at Bradford for Mr. Allen, who is gone to Boston, as he says himself, for special purposes, that is; to be married.1 In the afternoon I went with him, and visited Mr. Osgood. This was the first time I had been, in that house; and he said when I came out of it, Come, we have not been neighbourly: you must come, in, and see us often.
Dreadful Complaints of the times: Decay of Trade, scarcity of money &c. but these are grown mere Common place Observations, and do not make so deep impression, as if real distress, was seen attending them. Went into Mr. White's. Mrs. Soughton, was there; arrived this morning from Boston. Ran into Judge Blodget's, for a few minutes, found Nancy there, and Miss Sally Perkins, a young Lady I have not seen before. Bil Blodget squeaked a few tunes, on the violin: return'd and drank tea at Mr. White's. Paid a few Compliments to Miss Peggy, which surprized her very much. She had thought before, I made it an invariable Rule, never to make Compliments. I rather did it, with a View to receive a few less, myself: she is very fond of making them.
1. The following day Rev. Jonathan Allen married Elizabeth Kent (1747–1821), first cousin of AA and daughter of Ebenezer and Anna (Smith) Kent of Charlestown (Boston Record Commissioners, 30th Report, p. 71; Thomas Bellows Wyman, The Genealogies and Estates of Charlestown, in the County of Middlesex and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1629–1818, 2 vols., Boston, 1879, 2:571).

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

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-11


Mr. Shaw went over to Bradford, in the morning, to preach for Mr. Allen, and Mr. Smith supplied his place here. The forenoon discourse, was from CXIX Psalm. 165. Great Peace have they which love thy law; and nothing shall offend them. In the after• { 370 } noon, it was from Genesis VIII. 22. While the earth remaineth, seed time, and harvest, and cold, and heat, and summer and Winter, and day, and night shall not cease. I was much pleased with both; there were several persons, that attended to day, whom I have never seen there before. There are a number of gentlemen in Town, who, make it a Rule, never to attend divine Service here, if Mr. Shaw preaches. What narrow illiberal prejudices attend us, almost in every Circumstance of our lives. Closed my letter to my Sister in the Evening.1
1. Letter not found.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0012

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-12


I am exceedingly pleased with what I have done in Horace; and have come across many very noble Sentiments. One of those in the 9th. Ode, which I read this morning, comes, very near to one, that proceeded from the Saviour of the World. Matthew VI. 34. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Horace Ode IX. 13.

Quid sit futurum cras, fuge quaerere; et

Quem fors dierum cumque dabit, lucro

Appone .................................1

The writer, that has ideas, so correspondent to those uttered by the mouth of god, and that without the real inspiration, must very justly hold his rank among the greatest authors. Mr. Smith set out in the afternoon to return to Boston.
1. “Cease to ask what the morrow will bring forth, and set down as gain each day that Fortune grants!” (Horace: The Odes and Epodes, transl. C. E. Bennett, Cambridge, 1952, p. 28–29 [lines 13–15]). The long series of spaced periods are JQA's; he failed to include the next line from Horace: “Nor in thy youth neglect sweet love nor dances, whilst life is still in its bloom and crabbed age is far away!” (same).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0013

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-13


Went in the afternoon, with an Intention to visit Mr. Soughton, but stopping in at Mr. White's, was told he, and his Lady were spending the afternoon at Judge Blodget's: found Eliza, somewhat unwell. Mr. Sears, Mr. Burges, and Mr. Marquand, were at Mr. White's all the evening; and Mr. Osgood and { 371 } Mr. Duncan. Mr. Sears I take to be between 30 and 35 years old; has made an handsome fortune in the late war: his manners are easy, and agreeable: his Principles not so rigid and severe, as are required in this Country. Mr. Burges, is an Englishman: plain in his Countenance, dress, and manners: though he says some things, that I cannot easily reconcile, with certain Circumstances. Mr. Marquand, is a Merchant from Newbury, who is not I imagine in danger of losing the use of his Tongue. He did not suffer the Conversation to grow languid; from the manner in which he related a number of things, I imagined, he preferred adding a few supernumerary Circumstances, which might create wonder, to giving a plain unadorned account of things. Peggy called some of his expressions flummery, I called them Puffs. Either may express the proper Idea. Miss Nancy, finally return'd home this Evening.

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

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-14


Remained at home all day. Just at dusk Eliza came, up, and Leonard White with her. He brought me a Couple of Letters from my Cousin and brother.1 He came, only to keep Thanksgiving, for the winter Vacation, will not begin, before the first Wednesday in January.
1. Letters not found.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0015

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-15


Thanksgiving Day, a day of feasting throughout the State. Custom (and I know not but law also) has established, that towards the End of the year, the Governor, should appoint a certain day, for returning thanks to the supreme being for his favours during the course of the year, and the Custom is, universally, to have something extraordinary on that day, to feast upon. We had a sermon in the forenoon, upon the occasion, from Exodus. XXIII. 15. 16. and none shall appear before me empty; And the feast of the harvest, the first-fruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown, in the field: and the feast of the in-gathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field. Mr. Shaw who has been ill of a cold for some time, and was very hoarse, wish'd Mr. Porter1 to preach for him, but he refused, because, sometime ago, just before the { 372 } thanksgiving day in New Hampshire, upon his applying to Mr. Shaw to preach for him, he answered that Every Minister ought to preach his own thanksgiving. Mr. Soughton, with his Lady and Daughter dined here, and our Eliza. We had a very abundant Entertainment. We spent the evening at Mr. White's. The usual Circle, were present; and Mr. Johnny White2 (as they call him here, for distinction sake) and his Lady. We play'd cross Purposes, and I know not what. We laugh'd at one another all the Evening, and at about 9 in the Evening retired respectively, in good humour.
1. Huntington Porter, minister at Rye, N.H. (Langdon B. Parsons, History of the Town of Rye, New Hampshire, From Its Discovery and Settlement to December 31, 1903, Concord, N.H., 1905, p. 498).
2. John White Jr., Haverhill merchant and shopkeeper and older brother of JQA's future classmate Leonard (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 17:672–673).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0016

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-16


Dined at Mr. White's. His Son and Mr. Soughton with their Ladies, were there. Spent all the afternoon; and when I return'd home, I found, B. Duncan, and her two Brothers with, our sweet Nancy, who play'd with James, as amiably and as innocently, as if they were both in their first or second lustre. Betsey was reading, the Night Thoughts, and I recommended to her perusal the 5th and 6th. Satires of the Love of fame the universal Passion.1 Mr. and Mrs. Shaw went over in the afternoon, and paid the wedding visit to Mrs. Allen, who is in high spirits, as indeed she well may be for if Expectation makes the blessing dear she has had enough of it. Mr. Porter spent the Evening with Mr. Shaw.
1. Edward Young, The Complaint: Or, Night Thoughts on Life, Death, and Immortality, London, 1745, and his Love of Fame, The Universal Passion, In Seven Characteristic Satires, London, 1728. The fifth and sixth satires are “on women.”

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0017

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-17


Mr. Thaxter return'd from his journey this Evening. He had a very disagreeable time to-day; as the greatest part of it, has been very Rainy. But with such special calls as he has here the Weather must be no impediment to travelling: he brought a number of Letters from Braintree,1 and some books for me.
1. Letters to JQA, if any, have not been found.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0018

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-18


Both our Sermons were from the Psalms. In the morning, LXXVIII. 52. But made his own People to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. After Dinner XVI. 8. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. There are two sorts of preaching: the one, doctrinal, the other, practical. The latter is generally considered as the most useful, and I believe really is. The abstruse points of religion, have so long been disputed upon, that it is probable every argument that can be of any use on either side, has been repeatedly offered; and the preacher can do little more than give his own opinion. But of our moral duties we can never be too often reminded, and for the most part, we require to have them continually told us. Spent part of the Evening at Mr. White's. Mr. Thaxter, Mr. T. Osgood, and the young Captain were there. Mr. Osgood, and I were very sociable together; it was the first Time, I have had any Conversation with him. I was told my friend W. Warren, had return'd from Lisbon, and arrived at Boston last Wednesday.
Mr. White had a Vessel in at Newbury Port from the West Indies.
Leonard goes for Cambridge to-morrow morning.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0019

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-19


Finished the first book of Horace's Odes.
I went in the afternoon, and pass'd the Evening, at Mr. Johnny White's. Besides his father's family, there were, in the course of the Evening Sukey Sargeant, Sally Bernard, Debby Perkins, and Ben Blodget. Mrs. White's Sister Sally also, who is not handsome, but agreeable. I am more pleased with Debby, than I have been, and think, she might be made something very Clever: poor Benny, is somewhat unfortunate, for in the short stay, he has made in the town, he has afforded subject of mirth for the young Ladies, but they are not always the best judges of real merit. Mr. White has something curious in his Character. He very frequently complains, of being rude before Ladies, and sometimes proves it immediately: Miss Sukey, I am going to be very unpolite, and I believe this is the first time, you have found me so: I want to see, that Sweet heart of your's. The Lady answered with { 374 } great Propriety; but it would certainly have exposed many girls to have made, either an unmeaning or an insincere one.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0020

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-20


After studying, all day, as usual, I went in the Evening to Mr. Duncan's. Our time pass'd in chatting, laughing, romping, and dancing. Young Squire White,1 (for there are so many persons of that name in this Town that they are known only by their nicknames) humm'd and whistled a number of Country dances. This is another of the young Ladies' playthings here, but it is his own fault for suffering it. He seems to talk childish now and then, but he is not yet five and twenty; his youth may be his excuse. Studied late, as I most commonly do. Twelve or half after is my hour for retirement of late. I do not admire it much; but it is quite Necessary; and I therefore submit to it.
1. Samuel White Jr., son of Squire Samuel White, prominent Haverhill merchant and farmer and first cousin of John White Sr. (Daniel Appleton White and Annie Frances Richards, The Descendants of William White, of Haverhill, Mass. . . ., Boston, 1889, p. 9–12, 16, 22–23, 27, 53).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0021

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-21


All day at home. I am often at a great loss, what to say at the End of a day, in this Journal, of mine: I would place my thoughts upon Persons and things: but Persons I do not often see, and when I am in Company with a new Character, and recollect my Observations upon it, they are for the most part either such as I am afraid I should in future consider as partial and ill natured, or wholly insignificant; and my time is so entirely taken up, in other employments, that I make very few reflections upon things. However this scene of perpetual sameness, which does not agree perfectly with my disposition, will not last very long. The family I am in, presents as perfect a scene of happiness, as I ever saw: but it is entirely owing to the disposition of the persons. A life of Tranquility is to them a life of bliss. It could not be so to me. Variety is my Theme, and Life to me is like a journey, in which an unbounded plain, looks dull and insipid; while it affords greater pleasure to be surrounded by a beautiful valley, altho' steep and rugged mountains must be overcome, before it can be got at. I know not whether my Choice is the wisest: and it is possible I may live to change it; but such it is, at present.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0022

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-22


The snow was entirely gone from the ground, and the three first days in this week, were such as might be expected in April, or May, but are not common, at this Season of the year: Last Night some new snow fell again: but it is not very cold now. In the Evening I read to my Aunt for about an hour. I began and went through the first book of the Conquest of Canäan. The Versification is very fine. Many of the Ideas are noble, and all such as highly become a republican pen; the following are a specimen.

Mine be the bliss, the bliss supreme to see

My long-lov'd nation bless'd, and bless'd by me:

Let others rule; compar'd with this pure joy,

A throne's a bubble, and the world a toy.1

It will not be easy I believe to find, more excellent thoughts, and better express'd in the best of the british Poets. These lines also I think need only to be read, to be admired.

Of all the sympathy, that woes impart

To the soft texture of the good man's heart,

Departed friendship, claims the largest share,

And sorrow in excess is virtue there.2

Mr. Wibird who borrow'd the book when it was at Braintree, read it, and was very much pleased with it. He says, the author of it, is the american Pope, as he calls the author of McFingal, our Butler, and Belknap who has written an history of New Hampshire,3 our Robertson.
1. Bk. I, lines 593–596.
2. Same, Bk. I, lines 497–500.
3. Jeremy Belknap, the Dover, N.H., minister whose literary reputation rests chiefly on his History of New-Hampshire . . ., 3 vols., Boston, 1784–1792.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0023

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-23


Mr. Thaxter return'd from Exeter Court, (where he went last Tuesday) and dined with us. Mrs. Shaw was out, all the afternoon and evening. This morning I finish'd the 2d. book of Horace's Odes, and had one, which pleased me, as much, or more than any I have met with yet. It is the 16th. All those that Compose, this book are very fine, and I remember I have heard my { 376 } father who is very fond of the author, speak, in a peculiar manner of it.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0024

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-24


Eliza, spent the day here. Received some books from Braintree. Studied Watts's logic, in the afternoon, and have now got upon the subject of Syllogisms, which I do not as yet perfectly understand, but believe I shall with another reading. This method of Syllogism, is not the most perfect kind of rhetoric. Anything may be proved by it according to the rules: though nothing can be proved in fact but what the adversary chooses to grant.
It snow'd hard, all day. Wrote a letter in the Evening to my Mamma.1
1. Probably the letter dated 28 Dec. (Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0025

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-25


Christmas day.1 Among the Roman Catholics and the followers of the Church of England it is a great and Important day, but it is not observed in this Country, nor any where I believe by the dissenters. We had a couple of doctrinal Sermons to day. One from Isaiah XLIV. 23. Sing, o ye heavens; for the Lord hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the Earth; break forth into singing, ye mountains o forest and every tree therein; for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel. The other from John XIII. 8. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
The weather has been very pleasant. Eliza is unwell and was not at meeting. In the Evening I read to the Ladies, the 2d. book of the Conquest of Canäan; it is not inferior to the first, but the hero has nothing to do in it, and it consists all in relation, as the 2d. and 3d. Books of the Æneid. The hymn to the Sun, is beautiful. Mina's account of the Creation, and the subsequent history, is as concise, and comprehensive, as any thing of the kind I have read: the observation she makes concerning the Sun,

Yon orb, whose brightness claims thy raptur'd praise,

Is but a beam of his unbounded blaze.2

is admirable, but the author must have supposed that the Educa• { 377 } tion of young Ladies, at the time he writes of, was much more excellent, than is given them in this age of the world. It is probable, that the reading of history has since been replaced by that of novels and plays, which were not invented then; young Ladies now, would be much more expert at giving an account of some high flown Romance, than of any history, even that of their own Country.
1. A Sunday.
2. Bk. II, lines 153–154.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0026

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-26


Exceeding cold Weather all day. Such as I have not felt these three years. Went and pass'd the Evening at Mr. White's. Eliza, has been unwell since Saturday, but is recovering. The Ladies play'd several tunes on the harpsichord, and make considerable proficiency.
Peggy, is a fine girl, and her case claims the Compassion of every body that knows her. The Unhappy state of mind which she laboured under last Winter, seems an hereditary disorder: her Mother has been in the same Case; Mrs. Duncan, whose dreadful fate has been mentioned was Mrs. White's Sister, and a brother1 not long since, put an end to himself; in the same state of Mind. This must necessarily be a disadvantage to her, for her future settlement in Life. And although she has recovered, and is in good Spirits, yet a great curiosity, and a continual absence of mind, are evident proofs, that some traces of her disorder still remain: she was one of the most promising young Ladies in the Town; with an high Spirit, such as every female, at her time of Life should be possessed of, and a cheerful agreeable disposition; I sincerely wish every consequence of her former disorder, may, as most of them already have, gradually disappear, and that she may wholly recover her first state of mind, not to lose it again. She seems to have inherited none of her father's qualities. He appears to have a great deal of the dutchman in him. If he has none of the delicious enjoyments that proceed from deep Sensibility, neither is he exposed to the painful Sensations, which it often causes.
1. Abiel Leonard committed suicide in 1777 (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 14:450–455).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0027

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-27


Was at home all day. The Cold, has in some measure abated, but is still severe. The Ladies pass'd the afternoon out. In the evening I read the 3d. Book of our Epic Poem, which does not please me, quite so much as the two first. The Characters of Hezron, Irad, and Selima, are drawn with a masters hand; and the scene of the mutiny, with the death of one of the rebelling chiefs has a vast deal of force and spirit in it. But I did not so much admire, the dialogue between Irad, and Selima, concerning the justice of the War. It was not perhaps necessary to suppose, that any person among the Israëlites doubted the righteousness of their Cause, and it is a digression which seems to leave the action of the Poem languishing. The author cannot be accused as Virgil is of being partial against the female sex. The Characters of Mina and Selima, would rather lead one, to suppose he had too exalted an opinion of them. If he errs that way it is a failing, much more amiable and excusable than the other.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0028

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-28


The sharpest day we have had, this Season. Dined at Mr. Duncan's, in Company, with Miss P. White, E. Cranch, and Nancy, Mr. Moores, Mr. Bartlett, Mr. Thaxter, Mr. Tyler and his brother. Spent the afternoon and part of the Evening there. I wonder, how it happens, that almost every kind of Conversation, that may be of any use to persons, is excluded from polite Companies every where; is it because the children of ignorance and folly, are so much more numerous than those of thought and science, that these must submit to imitate them. There were this day in Company several persons, who were able to afford us much improvement and entertainment; if they had conversed upon subjects that were susceptible of it; yet by the tyrannical law of Custom, they were obliged to talk Nonsense. When I returned home, I read the 4th. Book. I know not whether the Critic might not find considerable fault with it: there are a number, of beautiful detailed descriptions, which seems to be peculiarly the author's talent. That of Eleazer, with which the book opens is admirable: but he marries Elam and Mina rather suddenly. She had been in Gibeon but very few days, in which time she had not it seems been idle; she had converted a Nation, and made a Conquest of the Kings Son. Is not this proceeding with a little too { 379 } much dispatch. But this Circumstance, produces, a very just and excellent observation. He represents Mina, after her marriage, as rather impatient to return, with her husband to Gibeon, and says.

In love's kind heat, like ice in summer's ray,

All former ties, dissolving, pass away;

To new found friends the soul oblivious flies

New objects charm us, and new passions rise.1

The story of Helon, which is something like that of Nisus, and Euryalus in the Æneid, is pretty, and affecting.
1. Bk. IV, lines 529–532.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0029

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-29


Young Lakeman,1 who studies with us, came over the river in the morning upon the Ice. The river closed last Night. In the afternoon, I went over with Mr. Thaxter, and paid a visit to Mr. and Mrs. Allen. They look as domestic, and as much settled as if they had been keeping house, these ten years. They both seem to have attained at least the summit of the hill of Life; and they will now be able to go down, hand in hand, which is much better than travelling alone. Mr. Thaxter came up, in the Evening, and supped with us. I wish I could see him pair'd also; and if I can judge from the apparent alteration, which has lately taken place in his sentiments concerning marriage, it will not be long before he too will get entangled.
1. Probably Nathan Lakeman, of Boxford, who later practiced medicine in Hamilton and Gloucester, Mass. (Sidney Perley, “The Dwellings of Boxford,” Essex Inst., Hist. Colls., 29:120 [Jan.–June 1892]; Russell Leigh Jackson, “Physicians of Essex County,” same, 84:87 [Jan. 1948]).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0030

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-30


Snow'd hard all day. The weather very chilly and disagreeable. I finish'd the first book of the Cyropaedia; to admire the beauties of this book I must be much more acquainted with the Language, it is written in, than I am at present. The Events related in what I have gone through, are in themselves small, and not very interesting; related with a simplicity of style, adapted to them: the Conversation between Cambyses and Cyrus, which concludes the book, may perhaps be of great service to military { 380 } Characters. In the Evening I read the 5th. Book of our Poem. This too seems to be entirely Episodic; and has no tendency to advance the Action, of the Poem; but it is in itself charming, and perhaps, if a Poem, is moral, instructive and entertaining it is not necessary that it should be confined to the severe rules of a phlegmatic, cold-blooded Critic. The Character and history of Irad appears to be an Imitation of that of Pallas, in Virgil, and the additional Circumstance of his being in Love, is not amiss. The Reflections upon the first fall, are noble, and pleasing, the different effects that the intention of Irad to join in the war, has upon Hezron, and Selima, are proper and natural. The Sentiment of Irad

But doom'd to fall, should Heaven my life demand

And death betide me from a heathen's hand,

I fall in Virtue's cause. Far happier doom,

In that bless'd path, to find a speedy tomb!

Than, lost in sports, or sunk in shameful ease,

To drag a worthless life, and swell inglorious days.1

ought to be that of every youth, who wishes for the applause of his Country, and the Esteem of mankind.
1. Lines 673–678.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0031

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-31


Finish'd Watts's logic. Which I have been a long time, about, but have never look'd in it except Saturdays in the afternoon. What I this day read were rules to guide our Reason, and I was much pleased with them. The Ladies went in the afternoon, down to Mr. White's to see Eliza, who has again been very much indisposed.
And now the year has come to a close; one half hour more, and probably before I shut this book, a new one, will be ushered in, and the present added to the number of those that have performed their course, and are never more to appear, unless in the annals of past Time. A large portion of the Life of man, has elapsed, since I began, this volume; and can I boldly say to myself, that my improvements have been in proportion to the moments that have flown? I dare not search into my heart, for an answer, Time steals gradually, and imperceptibly away; so that we are not sensible how important it is to employ it well, untill it { 381 } is gone too far to be retrieved. Moment after moment passes off, and seems as nothing; but when millions of those nothings, have collected into a year, and we see it gone, cruel Reflection rushes upon us, and undeceives us of our Error. One minute to come, is worth a thousand years past; which can only serve, to teach us how to make a proper use of it. But I still esteem myself as happy, that I can this night lay me down and sleep with this Consolation, that whatever errors, or foibles, may have misled me in the course, of the past or of the preceding years, at least I have not to reproach myself with Vice, which it has always been my principle to dread, and my Endeavour to shun. May it always be so, and may my Conscience, at the time, when the unerring hand of Death, shall be laid on me, clear me, as it now does.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0001

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-01

January 1st. 1786. Sunday.

The forenoon discourse from Acts XXVI. 22. Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day,1 inculcated thankfulness for the goodness of Providence in suffering us to live to this day. That in the afternoon from Psalm CXVI. 12. What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards me? was more general, and respected all the blessings, the People have enjoyed during the course of the last year. Both were occasional, and as good as any I have heard since I have been in this Town. I received in the Evening, a Letter from my Sister, and a packet from the Marquis de la: Fayette.2
1. Punctuation has been editorially supplied.
2. Probably AA2 to JQA, 18 Oct. 1785 (Adams Papers); the contents of Lafayette's packet have not been identified.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0002

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-02


At about half past 7 this morning, a slight shock of an Earthquake, was felt here. It lasted about 2 minutes. It was perceived by several persons in this house, and by most people in Town. I was asleep, and perceived nothing of it. Spent the Evening at Mr. White's. Mr. and Mrs. Allen, came over in the afternoon, and drank tea, here, and took Betsey Smith away with them. I finished this morning the third book of Horace's Odes. Many of them are very fine, and the last one shows he was himself, sufficiently Sensible of it. When a Poet promises immortality to himself, he is always on the safe side of the Question, for if his works { 382 } die with him, or soon after him, no body ever can accuse him of vanity or arrogance: but if his predictions are verified, he is considered not only as a Poet, but as a Prophet. But I don't know if this Consciousness, which great men have of their abilities, is so great a failing, as is often supposed. It seems not to be required that they should not have a sense of their superiority, but that they should not show it. This perhaps proceeds from our own Vanity, which cannot bear the least mortification. No man, I believe underrates himself, and I have a greater opinion of a man's Sincerity when he frankly owns his Sentiments of himself, than when he, hypocritically undervalues himself, and shuns fame, but to make it sure.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0003

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-03


A heavy Snow storm, all day. Not less I imagine, than two feet fell, upon a level. Mr. Thaxter dined and spent the afternoon here. Wrote to my Sister1 in the Evening, was obliged to lay aside my morning lesson, on account of my eyes which begin to be weak.
1. Letter not found.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0004

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-04


It has not yet cleared up, but no Snow fell this day. In the Evening I went down to Mr. White's to see Leonard, who arrived from Cambridge this afternoon. The Winter Vacation, at the University began this day, and will last, five Weeks. There was Company at Mr. White's. Mr. White from Boston,1 a person exceeding tall, but of easy manners. Mr. Bil: Blodget, the study of whose life is, to be accounted a droll fellow; and it must be confess'd he has acquired the art of speaking Nonsense, in such a manner, as commonly raises a laugh. Whether this is wit or no, is what I shall not at present determine.
1. William White, of “Merchant's-row,” Boston, was a cousin of John White Sr. (Daniel Appleton White and Annie Frances Richards, The Descendants of William White, of Haverhill, Mass. . . ., p. 9–12, 15–16, 29–30, 59; Boston Directory, 1789).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0005

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-05


It snow'd again almost all day. Mr. W. White, and Leonard, came, and pass'd an hour here, in the Evening. As this prevented { 383 } me from writing, I studied in the 4th. Book of Horace's Odes; but it did no good to my Eyes. The third, to Melpomene, is supposed to be one of his best, and is that which Scaliger would have preferred being the author of, rather than King of Arragon, which after all, was not I believe a very excellent way of expressing his Admiration if he had the choice of two Impossibilities, he tells us, which he should rather have.1 It is a very Vulgar manner of Expression, though more commonly made use of by lovers than Critics.
1. Joseph Justus Scaliger, the foremost Latin scholar and critic of the 16th century and editor of Greek and Latin classics (Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale). This preference is mentioned in several editions of Horace's works owned by JQA at this time, including Philip Francis, A Poetical Translation of the Works of Horace, With the Original Text . . ., 8th edn., 4 vols., London, 1778, 2:138 ([Christian Lotter], Inventory of JQA's Books, 6 Nov. 1784, Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0006

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-06


Went down in the Evening and was a couple of hours at Mr. White's. They were to have had Company, there, but were disappointed. I was not. I pass'd the Evening, in a very agreeable, sociable manner, which I should not have done in the other Case. The way we have here of killing Time, in large Companies, appears to me, most absurd and ridiculous. All must be fixed down, in Chairs, looking at one another, like a puppet show, and talking some Common Place phrases to one another, and those that do make observations, adding to their Treasure of scandal which is afterwards dealt out prodigally, in smaller Societies. Why cannot mankind, study their own, and each other's Ease, upon such Occasions, instead of making Society a toil rather than a pleasure.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0007

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-07


Dined at Mr. Bartlett's. There were 15 persons at Table, of whom I was not acquainted with Mr. McCard, Mr. Parsons, and Mr. W. Codman, from Boston. Mr. Parsons, is a great wit; but not a Christian. He is very fond of ridiculing the Bible. He pass'd a number of jests upon it, at Table. There was no man, he said in this Town, who read the Bible more, than he did, or who made less use of the Principles it contained. He had never seen any Book, he did not believe there existed a book, that contained such excellent Precepts for Life, and by following which a Man, { 384 } might be happier. But there were an hundred tales, in it, which were childish and silly. People talk'd of Inspiration. He wondered what the book of Ruth, what the book of Esther, had to do with Inspiration. If he had a family, he would conform, to the established religious customs, because, they were for the good of Society in general. But as it was, he thought best to follow his own Ease and Inclination. This man, has a very lively fancy, and a sprightly natural wit, but I think he makes a bad use of it. Whatever a man's religious principles may be, I believe it is very unpolite and improper for him to ridicule the general Opinion.
When I return'd home, I found a large Company of Ladies there, Miss Stevenson, Eliza, Duncan,1 Peggy White, two Miss Reddington's and Miss L. Night,2 a young Lady from Newbury, who is here on a visit. She comes as near a perfect beauty, as any Lady I remember to have seen. Tall, but a beautiful shape, fine eyes, and in short every feature pleasing, except the nose, which is rather of the Roman sort, and injures her appearance, in profile; her taste in dress Elegant, and her disposition said to be excellent, which is much more to her advantage, than her personal figure. Mr. T. Osgood is said to be her admirer. Was working all the Evening, and was confirm'd in an Opinion which I conceiv'd a considerable time since, and which gives me much pain. I could not be induced to live long in such a Situation, to be suspected and spied, and guarded, all from a Chimaera, rising in a persons brain, is what I cannot bear. It proceeds I am perswaded, from good motives, and a wish for my welfare; but it is like putting a man, perfectly well, into a course of Physic, which may create real disorders. But this will not I hope be the case.
1. “Eliza, Duncan”: JQA may mean Eliza Cranch and Elizabeth (Betsy) Duncan as both were there (“Journal of Elizabeth Cranch,” p. 24).
2. Lucy Knight was later satirized as “Lucinda” by JQA while a law student in Newburyport and was incorporated into his poem “A Vision” (entries of 30 Jan. 1787, note; 28 March 1788, below).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0008

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-08


Mr. Adams, the Minister of another Parish, belonging to this Town changed with Mr. Shaw, and preached here in the forenoon, from Matthew XI. 21, 22. Wo unto thee Chorazin! wo unto thee Bethsaïda! for if the mighty works which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented { 385 } long ago, in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of Judgment than for you. The discourse, was I thought very good; and had a proper Tendency to inculcate the moral duties. The Sermon in the afternoon, was upon Romans, XV. 3. For even Christ pleased not himself; we were told first, negatively; what was not the Sense, of these words; and then positively, what was. This is an old fashion, but, was in this Case, very proper. In former times a Minister would take, an hour to prove, negatively, that the Lord, was not Job, nor Satan, nor in short any thing but God. This absurd custom, is now I believe, universally abolished: but in this Case, it was very proper, to show what was not meant by the Text, because the passage, might be mis-construed; so as to raise the reproach of contradiction and inconsistency which has been so often laid to the Scripture. Mr. Adams held up the doctrine of mortification and self-denial, but at the same time disapproved of Hermitage, pilgrimages, penances &c. which could answer no End. He recommended self denial, when our important interests, or the good of our fellow Creatures required it.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0009

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-09


Was all day at home, and in the evening, closed my Letter to my Sister,1 as the Post goes for Boston, to-morrow, one day sooner than common, and Captain Lyde2 sails in a few days, for London: it kept me up exceeding late, or rather till very early, for it was near 2, in the morning, when I finish'd; I burn't my fingers, bruised my toes,3 and went to bed: but what was worst of all I affronted Miss Nancy by speaking somewhat too abruptly.
1. Letter not found.
2. Nathaniel Byfield Lyde, captain of the Boston Packet and formerly captain of the ship Active, in which AA and AA2 sailed to England from Boston in 1784 (Boston Independent Chronicle, 12 Jan.; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:154, 156).
3. JQA probably meant that he burned his fingers on the candle and bruised his toes in the dark afterward.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0010

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-10


Leonard White came up in the morning, and proposed to me, to make one of a small slaying party to Ham[p]stead, where Mr. White has an house, and farm. At about 10 o'clock, the slay stopp'd at the gate, and we immediately set away; Eliza, Peggy White Mr. Moores, Leonard, and myself. It was half past 11 before we got to the Place, although only 8 miles distant; on ac• { 386 } count of the great number of loaded teems which we met on the road; the Country People, come down in the Winter in Slays, from 40 or 50 miles, to supply this and the neighbouring towns, with provisions of various kinds; and as the path is now very narrow, and the Snow deep, it is difficult, and sometimes dangerous for two carriages to cross each other. About 3 miles from Mr. Shaw's, is the line which seperates the States of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, I had never cross'd it before this day. We dined at Hamstead, and at about half after four set out to return; it was about 6 o'clock when we got to Mr. White's house. We had quite an agreeable party; the weather very good, and the Company small; return'd from Mr. White's, at about 8 o'clock, and went very early to bed, as what with setting up so late last night, and what with the jaunt, I was very much fatigued.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0011

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-11


Finished in the forenoon, the second Book of the Cyropaedia; which I began, the 2d. of this month, and in the afternoon I began upon the book of Luke, in the Testament. I finish'd Matthew, last Thursday, and passed over Mark, in which it is supposed there is no difficulty, and which I may go through, in case, I have leisure. Miss Nancy, went in the afternoon with a large Party on slaying; and dancing. I loiter'd away the whole evening, which I have not done before, for some time. But I made up the lost time in the Night: between 1 and 2 in the morning when I retired to bed.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0012

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-12


Began in the forenoon upon the third book of the Cyropaedia; Eliza Duncan, Miss Stevenson and Mr. Bil. Osgood spent the Evening here. Nancy has been very much in the dumps, these two or three days. I hope she is not offended with herself; for though she has many very great foibles (the lot of humanity) yet, upon the whole she is really a good girl.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0013

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-13


Mrs. Payson pass'd the afternoon here. A Daughter of Mrs. Sargeants who was a Coquettish young Widow, and married, about 9 months since; she is in some measure the arbiter of Taste { 387 } and fashion here: and makes very smart and severe Remarks, upon every one, who does not happen to dress or dance, according to her Taste.
I went down with Nancy to Mr. Duncans, and was there all the Evening; there was considerable Company: the young Squire, as empty, as a Drum, though it must be said in his favour, that he is not very talkative. Mr. Tim Osgood, who return'd yesterday from Newbury, where he went to carry Miss Knight. Mr. Duncan, said, he was an ambitious man, for that he was doing all he could to be Knighted. Miss Stevenson, endeavours to say very witty things, and has an archness of look, as who should say, is not that excellent. There is perhaps a little affectation in the matter, but it is all very excuseable, in a Lady. We must always judge of persons and things from their qualities, relative to others of the same kind. In this Country where fortunes are almost universally very small, four or five hundred £ sterling, annual income is considered as a large fortune; in Europe, it is a very trifling one. Were our young Ladies generally remarkable, for great virtues, and very few and inconsiderable faults, one might with Reason be strict, and severe; but as the matter stands, we must entirely over look small, foibles,

Be to their faults a little blind,

Be to their virtues very kind,1

for most of our damsels are like portraits in crayons, which at a distance look, well, but if you approach near them, are vile daubings. There are some indeed who like the paintings of the great masters, excite admiration more and more, the nearer, and the longer they are examined. A few such, alone can reconcile me to a sex, which I should otherwise, doubt whether to hate, despise, or pity most.
1. Matthew Prior, “An English Padlock,” [lines 78–79]; JQA has reversed the lines. A copy of Prior's Poems on Several Occasions, 2 vols. in 1, Glasgow, 1759, was owned by JQA at this time (MQA).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0014

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-14


I was up late last Night, to finish the fourth book of Horace's Odes; and found my Eyes, this morning very sore indeed, so that I could not write or read. Mr. Storer,1 Mr. Atkinson,2 and Mr. W. Smith arrived, at about 10 in the morning, and my time was { 388 } taken up, in going about with them. Visited Mr. Stoughton for the first time: Mrs. Stoughton is by no means fond of this Town. The sudden transition, from London, to so small and retired a Town as this, where she has no intimate acquaintance, must be disagreeable. Solitude, can never constitute a man's happiness, much less a woman's. I imagine they will not continue in Town long. Mr. Thaxter, Eliza, and the gentlemen, dined here; I had a thousand Questions to ask, Charles Storer, and forgot three quarters of them, not knowing which to ask first. He brought me, my watch chain, and some Letters.3
1. Charles Storer (1761–1829), distantly related to AA through his father's second marriage into the Quincy family, went to Europe in 1781 and lived with JA at The Hague in 1782 and in Paris 1782–1783 while serving as an additional secretary to the minister. Storer left the Adamses late in 1783, spending much of his time in England, but kept in contact through a series of letters to JQA during 1784–1785. He returned to America in Nov. 1785 (Adams Family Correspondence, 4:127; Storer to AA, 17 Oct. 1782; JA to John Jay, 25 Aug. 1785, LbC; AA2 to JQA, 24 Sept.–1 Oct. 1785, Adams Papers).
2. John Atkinson, who married Elizabeth Storer, daughter of “Deacon” Ebenezer Storer and half-sister of Charles (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 12:213–214; Scrapbook, MHi:Elizabeth Hall Smith Papers).
3. The letters probably included at least the following: AA2 to JQA, 26 Aug.–13 Sept. 1785; JA to JQA, 31 Aug., 9 Sept. 1785; AA to JQA, 6, 12 Sept. 1785 (Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0015

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-15


Snowy weather all day. We attended however both the meetings. The forenoon text was from Isaiah VII. 13. And he said, Hear ye now, o house of David, Is it a small thing for you, to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? Somewhat of a foul weather Sermon, pretty short, and upon a subject of which little can be made. The field for expatiating, was much wider in the afternoon from Acts X. 38. Who, went about doing good. Here the Christian Clergyman, can produce the example of the author of his religion to recommend the most amiable virtues, benevolence, and humanity, which have so often been inculcated by the Philosophers of every age, and sect, but None have so completely added example to Precept, as he of whom this was said. We went down to Master White's, in the Evening, and staid there a couple of hours.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0016

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-16


The gentlemen left us this morning for Portsmouth. The weather very cold. At home all day. Began the book of Epodes in { 389 } Horace in the Evening. Between 1. and 2 in the morning before I retired. <9> 10 in the Evening, is the professed bed hour, here: but there are Circumstances, which 19 times out of 20 delay it, till after 11. and it is a disagreeable reflection to me, that from an useless, attention, and fear for me, so far from producing its desired effect makes me lose, at least one hour every day; besides the additional vexation of seeing myself suspected; all these things are however only for a time, and I am thankful, that, it is verging so fast towards its end.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0017

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-17


An extreme cold day. I regretted much, not having my thermometer with me, to see the Proportion, between the severity of the weather in St. Petersburg, and here. My Brother Charles, and Cousin Cranch, arrived here in the forenoon. They came yesterday from Braintree, as far as Andover. My Brother's coming, was the more agreeable, for being in some measure unexpected. We pass'd the Evening at Mr. White's. Eliza, went to the Assembly: the first this Season, because, it has been delay'd for some time, by the misfortune in Mr. Duncan's family. There has been a great complaining, among the old-womanish People in town, on this Subject: Superstition of some kind will prevail with mankind every where. Mr. Smith the minister of the Baptist Society in this Town, is violently opposed to dancing. It is in his mind, of itself an heinous sin. He has preached a Sermon himself, and hands about among his Parishioners, a printed one, inculcating this Principle, and there are many People, here, so warped in Prejudice, that they are really perswaded, they should incur the divine displeasure, as much by dancing, as by stealing, or perhaps, committing murder. Besides this there are many who, do not participate of the diversion, and are envious to see others amusing themselves. Their pretended reasons for disapproving an assembly are, that it is an idle expence, which many of the subscribers cannot afford; that it renders them unfit for business the next day, or that it makes them keep bad hours. This is nothing more, than meddling, in the affairs of other People, which mankind in general are too prone to. Some sillier than all the rest find fault, with the time of day, that is chosen, and an old woman, wisely told Mr. Shaw, that It was a dark purpose, and therefore they took a dark time. How one of { 390 } the most innocent, and rational amusements, that was ever invented, can find, so many opposers is somewhat mysterious. But the mind of man is too often dispossed, to strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. However, the Subscribers wisely take no notice, of all these things, but go on, their own way, and despise all these senseless clamours.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0018

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-18


The severest day we have had this Season. Did not stir out of the house, all day. Nancy, perceiving, that the cold had very much abated went out, and dined: but when she return'd again in the Evening, discovered, that the Cold, had been rather increasing continually than otherwise. I could not write in the Evening, which was past in conversation with my Cousin and Brother.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0019

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-19


The Cold has not been so violent this day, as the two former. Mr. and Mrs. Shaw, Miss Nancy and myself dined at Mr. N: Bradley's. This family is said to be remarkable for oddity. I was told I should have the greatest difficulty to keep my Countenance. There was indeed something singular in all of them, but nothing, that I thought very extraordinary. Every Nation has certain Customs peculiar to itself, and is not ridiculed for it. I do not see, why, every little singularity in a family should be laughed at.
I went after dinner to see Mr. Thaxter, at his office, and staid with him till 8 in the Evening, and pass'd my time very agreeably, as I always do, when with him alone. Mr. Harrod1 was there, an hour or two: the first time I have ever been in Company with him. Studied the Epodes, in the Night; I do not admire them so much as the rest of their author's works. It would be much for his Reputation, I think, if some of them, were destroy'd, or left out of the Collections of his writings.

Much less can that obtain a place,

At which a virgin hides her face.2

No fame, can justify, such gross indecency as some of these Poems exhibit, and which if they came from any one else, would be called infamous. An officer who should behave, as a dastard, { 391 } would not escape being broke, because upon former occasions, he had given proofs of great intrepidity.
1. Joseph Harrod (ca. 1748–1828), whose daughter Ann married TBA in 1805.
2. Abraham Cowley, “Ode. Of Wit,” lines [45–46] (Works, 11th edn., 3 vols., London, 1710–1711, 1:4, at MQA).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0020

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-20


A Number of Ladies, drank tea here, and Judge Sargeant also. I went with Mr. Thaxter and my brother Charles, and spent the Evening at Mr. Osgood's. This is a very ingenious Sensible man, well versed in English Literature, and has had what here is called a liberal Education; which means, he has been through the University. We conversed upon subjects, which please me more than cards, or dress or scandal, upon history and upon a book publish'd about a year since, by Dr. Chauncy, upon universal Salvation.1 His System is, that all mankind will finally be saved, and he pretends2 to prove it, from the Scriptures. When the English Translation of the Bible tells us, that the wicked shall be cast into eternal fire, it does not render the original Idea. The greek word εις αιωνα, means an unlimited space of time: it sometimes signifies a century, and sometimes the life of man. Reason alone, will inform us, that the Goodness as well as the power of the Almighty require that all mankind should be saved, and if the authority of the Scriptures, is not opposed to this System, the Christian religion is undoubtedly, the noblest plan, that was ever followed by men. But even after the great and admirable reformations, that have taken place within these three Centuries, there are many absurd, unnatural, and trifling articles, to which every sect of it are too much attached; great veneration is due to the holy writings, but it must be confessed, they have many Imperfections in the original Languages, and still more in the modern translations of them. The writings of Moses, subsisted, during a period of 3000 years, before the invention of printing, in the numerous Copies that were taken of them; many false words must have crept in, and in some passages may have altered entirely the original Sense. The Translators, may have mistaken, many places, and given Ideas which are not intended in the true Language. If therefore we find in the modern Translations of the Bible, Sentiments which are repugnant to Reason, we must suppose, that they are not of those, that are the truly { 392 } inspired. In short Mr. Osgood said, when he first heard of Dr. Chauncy's Book, he had a great deal more to say against his System, than he had after he had read it. Although I have not seen the Book, as I have no Idea of a supreme being, that is not infinitely merciful, and good, as well as powerful, I cannot but admire every thing that tends to inculcate that Principle. Mr. Thaxter said, he fancied that opinion would gain ground very much within half a Century in this Country: and supposed it could not do any harm, if it was rightly understood.
1. [Charles Chauncy], The Mystery Hid from Ages and Generations, Made Manifest by the Gospel-Revelation: Or, The Salvation of All Men . . ., London, 1784.
2. Pretends: puts forward an explanation (OED).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0021

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-21


Finished the Epodes of Horace, and the third book of Xenophon's Cyropaedia. There is no poem of Horace's, that has ever pleased me more, than that which closes the odes: the Carmen Saeculare. The beauty of language, and of numbers seem very well united. And of all the kinds of verse, that are used by this Poet the Sapphic, I think has the most dignity. The Saecular Games were celebrated in honour of all the Gods, but this poem, is addressed wholly, to Apollo, and Diana: at least, very little is said of any of the rest. I do not know but it may be very presuming to think that The Cyropaedia, is a very childish thing. There are now and then, it is true some noble Ideas. But I do not see that any great improvement can be derived from reading it.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0022

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-22


The Weather has softened so much, that, it thaw'd last Night, and has, all this day. We had nevertheless in the forenoon, a Sermon, from, Psalm CXLVII. 17. who can stand before his cold. And a cold Sermon it was. The Subject indeed was such, as that much, was not to be expected from it, nor indeed was much made of it. It was however short, which is a very good Quality at this Season of the year. The afternoon text, from I Corinthians. III. 18. Let no man deceive himself, opened a much wider field for reasoning, and morality. The discourse pleased me much better. My Brother sat up with me; I began upon the first Book of the Satires,1 which are upon a very different plan from the Odes. Close reasoning, sharp ridicule, and few ornaments are the { 393 } Characteristics of this kind of Poetry. Ridicule, and even reasoning, may be made use of in an Ode, but it absolutely requires the most fragrant flowers of rhetoric, and Poetry to adorn it.
1. JQA apparently also made at this time a translation of Horace's Satires; there is an undated fragmentary document in M/JQA/44 (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 239), which contains translations of Satires 1 and 3–10 of Book I, Satire 1 being incomplete; and Satires 1–8 of Book II, Satire 8 being incomplete.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0023

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-23


Began upon Homer's Iliad, in the morning, and got through 50 lines. This author would be very easy to understand, was it not for the various dialects he makes use of.
Drank tea, and spent the Evening at Mr. McHard's; but as the Company was chiefly composed of young Ladies, of Course, there was nothing said, which may not be found in Swift's polite Conversation;1 and I am sure there is nothing there, that deserves to be repeated. We play'd cards, till about 9, and then all retired.
1. A Complete Collection of Polite and Ingenious Conversation, published under the pseudonym of Simon Wagstaff, Esq., good-naturedly satirizes through three dialogues the inane attempts at repartee of such characters as Miss Notable, Lord Sparkish, and others. The examples of smart conversation offered, Swift's introduction declared, should fill every need of genteel people “met together for their mutual entertainment.”

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0024

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-24


Went over, with my Cousin and brother Charles, to dine with Mr. Allen at Bradford. A lame foot prevented Tom from going with us. Last Saturday, he turn'd his foot as he was walking, and disjointed three bones. So that he cannot yet walk.
Walker and Ebenezer Webster, formally a pupil of Mr. Shaw's dined with us: and an old gentleman by the name of Osgood1 belonging to Andover, a very sensible man, and by the manner in which he conversed I judged he had been a traveller. There was after dinner, another Doctor Osgood,2 came in: a young man very talkative I fancy: he reason'd more than half an hour to prove to Mr. Allen, that a minister without a fortune, did very wrong to marry; I thought his attempt was somewhat ill-timed.
Returning home we met the young Ladies from Master White's going to Johnny's. We escorted them; sat there half an hour: and came off.
{ 394 }
1. Probably Joseph Osgood Sr., a physician at Andover (Ira Osgood, A Genealogy of the Descendants of John, Christopher, and William Osgood, Salem, Mass., 1894, p. 38–39).
2. Possibly Dr. Isaac Osgood Jr., a son of the Haverhill merchant (Russell Leigh Jackson, “Physicians of Essex County,” Essex Inst., Hist. Colls., 84:182 [April 1948]).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0025

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-25


Dined with my Cousin, and brothers at Mr. White's; the young Captain1 was there, a youth, who goes by that title because, he has assumed the man somewhat young. Peggy told me to write some Verses in her Pocket book, and after hesitating between a number of silly ideas, I at length pitch'd upon these, which are full silly enough.

Ah what avails it, to invoke the Muse,

To sing your praises as the Poets use,

Since t'would exhaust the richest flow of Verse,

One in a thousand Beauties to rehearse.

If it is but insipid flattery, it is no more than what every young Lady expects from Gentlemen; and what few of the Gentlemen refuse them.
My Cousin went with the Ladies to spend the Evening at Major Bartlett's. My brothers and I return'd home.
1. That is, Capt. Benjamin Willis Jr.; see entry of 9 Dec. (above).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0026

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-26


This morning my Cousin and Brother left us, to return back to Braintree. The late thaw has made the roads very bad for them; but the weather has been agreeable, till the Evening, which is Snowy. Mr. Piper, a Clergyman, belonging to Wakefield in New Hampshire, spent the Night here; I felt not in so high spirits as I sometimes do, and much in a silent mood: so that I did not stay to hear much of Mr. Piper's Conversation.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0027

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-27


Finished the first book of the Satires, and began, the 2d. These I find no difficulty in, as I have translated them before.1 Read in Locke's Essay upon the Understanding, in the afternoon; the whole of the first book is taken up in proving that there are no innate Ideas. A person should never pass judgment upon such { 395 } points, or indeed any others that are the subjects of Contention, without hearing both sides of the Question: but he appears to reason in such a manner that I am very much inclined to think him right. It has been said, that his arguments to prove that the existence of a God is not an innate Idea, may be injurious, but they make no alteration in the reality, nor do they in the least invalidate, the evidence, of, what Nature cries aloud in all her works. This is the only idea, which I think might be contended for as innate; for as to those of a Virtue, justice &c. I conceive of nothing that can be answered to what he says upon the subject.
1. JQA began earlier a written translation of Horace's Satires, containing only Satire 1 of Book I. He first turned it into Latin prose by transposing the order of words and then translated it phrase by phrase (M/JQA/42 [1783?], Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 237).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0028

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-28


Mrs. Shaw went over to Bradford in the afternoon, and pass'd it at Mr. Allen's. Read Locke, upon the Question whether the Soul always thinks: he endeavours to prove that it does not: he has not however satisfied me, so well as upon the Subject of innate Ideas. His principal argument is, the improbability, that we should think several hours together, and not recollect what it was we thought of. But it is beyond dispute that some men do both walk, and talk very rationally in their sleep and yet never recollect one Circumstance of it, and are entirely ignorant of it, unless told by Persons present, at the Time. Now, this being the case, it is no unreasonable argument, to say that if we are sometimes wholly insensible after waking, of what we did while asleep, it may be so always. But I take it this matter must always be somewhat obscure, because it cannot be demonstrated either way. The author seems to think that dreams, are no proof of the soul's being active, but supposed it may be caused by some faculty like that possessed by Beasts. This Idea is ingenious, but is not sufficiently proved true, to be admitted as an argument.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0029

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-29


Mr. Allen preach'd here to day. In the morning from Matthew VI. 33. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. I liked the Sermon well enough, all but this Sentence. The antecedent to { 396 } which the pronoun relative his here refers, is God. Surely those of the hearers who had studied Grammar, were not to be told this, and those who had not were probably ignorant of the meaning affixed to the words, antecedent, and pronoun relative. I thought, his prayer was exceeding good. His afternoon discourse was from John XIV: 27: Peace I leave with you, my Peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. He seems to be fond of grammatical disquisitions, and talk'd about Synonimous terms, excepting that I was pleased with his speaking.
Very moderate weather, and exceeding fine; more adapted to the month of April, than to the present Season.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0030

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-30


Rain'd almost all day. Finish'd the first Book of Homer's Iliad, which is far more entertaining than the Cyropaedia; there is a vast deal of simplicity in the Poetry, but at the same time great dignity, and so much Nature, that it is not without Reason, that an English Poet has said of him,

To Study Nature is to study him.1

I began in the evening a Letter to my Sister.2
1. JQA was undoubtedly thinking of the following lines from Pope:
“Nature and Homer were, he [Virgil] found, the same.
Convinc'd amaz'd, he checks the bold design:
And rules as strict his labour'd work confine,
As if the Stagirite o'erlook'd each line.
Learn hence for ancient rules a just esteem;
To copy nature is to copy them.”
(“An Essay on Criticism,” lines 135–140).
2. Letter not found.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0031

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-31


Began upon the 4th Book of the Cyropaedia. The wind at about noon, shifted to the North West, and grew cold very fast. Assembly Night, and as all the young folks in town were there, I staid at home. Nancy return'd at 12. o'clock from the Assembly.
Finished the Satires.
About 2 months longer, will put an end to my Residence here, and I shall then rejoice for more than one Reason.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0001

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-01

Wednesday February 1st. 1786.

Slept none last Night. Felt unwell all day. Went in the evening to Mr. White's but nobody was there: from thence to Mr. Duncan's where I found Mr. Thaxter, and the young Squire, about as opposite to each other as North and South. Mr. Duncan, talk'd a great deal about paper money times, and the amazing depreciation, of that Currency. Went from thence in to Mr. Osgood's, where there was all Mr. White's family. Says Mr. W. we have not seen you, before, this month. I said I had been at his house last week. But that was not this month. This was wit. Spent an hour with Mr. Thaxter at his office. Studied none in the Night.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0002

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-02


Lecture day. Mr. Adams, Mr. Allen, and Master Parker,1 dined here. I did not go. In the afternoon Eliza, finally came, and intends to stay here, as long as she remains in Haverhill; I imagine we shall both leave town about the same time. Mr. Thaxter came and spent an hour here in the Evening, which he seldom does, as he is a little too closely engaged in other business. He often reminds me of the lines in the Conquest of Canäan quoted, in page 240, of this volume.2 They are I think very applicable to him.
1. Presumably Daniel Parker, the Haverhill schoolmaster.
2. See entry for 28 Dec. 1785 (above).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0003

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-03


Drank tea at old Mrs. Marsh's. Mr. and Mrs. Shaw have, a very high opinion of this Person; and I believe a just one. She appears to me, to be ting'd with Superstition, but of such as can do no harm in the world, and may be greatly conducive to her own happiness. Was about an hour at Mr. White's, and afterwards at Mr. Duncan's; a numerous Company there. Mr. Moores, and Ab: Duncan came and spent the remainder of the Evening here. Felt low spirited but tickled my spleen, by reading Young's 6th. Satire in the love of Fame.1
1. “On Women” (Edward Young, Love of Fame, The Universal Passion, In Seven Characteristic Satires, London, 1728).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0004

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-04


Dined at Mr. Osgood's in a large Company. 16 persons, at table. Mr. Larieu, a frenchman, and Mr. W. Greenleaf, were the only, that I was not before acquainted with. Mr. Larieu has been very unfortunate in losing almost all his Estate, by the failure of Mr. Fessenden, in this Town. Drank tea at Mr. White's, where, Eliza pass'd the Day. In the Evening I was conversing my aunt, upon the subject of Courtship, and that of Self love. Mr. Shaw was present when I said I thought, Self, was the ultimate motive of all actions, good, bad, or indifferent. He opposed the idea, and as I persisted in my opinion, he said he thought it a little Strange, that at 19 a youth should make such positive decisions, in opposition, to persons much older, than myself. I believe in answer I shew, too much warmth, as his charge was partly true. I fear I am too tenacious of many of my opinions, and what in itself is nothing, but as to the effect it has on mankind, is all; I still own, that I have not altered them, even after hearing them Reason upon the subject; unless I have really been convinced. It has made persons suppose I was obstinate, and dogmatical, and pedantic, as Mr. Shaw expressed himself, when if my heart deceives me not, I only wish to acquire information, and own my thoughts, without ever having an Idea, to wish other persons might adopt my Sentiments; it is not unpolite to think differently from a person older than yourself, but the unpoliteness lies in combatting his opinions. I wish to be more fully Sensible of this maxim, at times, when it is necessary to put it in practice. Reverence for age, is one of the most important and necessary qualities, a young man can have: and a deference to their sentiments, ought, apparently to be shown, even although, they were absurd and ridiculous. N.B. To think more upon this Subject.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0005

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-05


A Snowy day.
Two Sermons from Hebrews XI. 1. Now faith is the Substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. I should not conceive how one Sermon [could be made?] out of this text, much less two. However, what with faith, and the immortality of the Soul they were made out. That ancient and celebrated Poet Homer, had taken notice of a place, which he called αδης1 and supposed it to be appointed the receptacle of good souls. { 399 } Plato a great Philosopher had written a large treatise upon the Subject: and Cicero, says that if the opinion of the Souls immortality, be false, he owns himself happy to be in error. There was a great deal of Erudition shown here; but for my Part, I want neither the Authority of Homer, of Plato, nor of Tully, to be persuaded of a thing, which Nature speaks so plainly. A child was baptized, by the name of Sally Cogswell.
1. That is, Hades.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0006

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-06


Finished the 4th. Book of the Cyropaedia; I shall have no more to do with this author while I remain here, and am heartily glad of it. It is not now, as in the first book. The Conquest of Empires is related, but in the same manner, that the trifles of the hero's childhood were. Gobryas appears to me to tell his story, just as a crabberly boy complains to his mother, that he has been beat, not like a sovereign, ardent to revenge the death of his Son: there appears moreover in this Romance, a very great degree of improbability. Human Nature must have been very different then from what it is now, if a short speech, could not only restrain soldiers from plundering, but make those of one Nation, tamely give up their prey to their allies.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0007

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-07


Drank tea, and spent the evening at Mr. Payson's. His lady, who has had two daughters1 by a former, takes, as I believe, the shortest possible method to ruin them. She made one of them this evening, mimic, the peculiarities, of several respectable persons in town. The Child, would first examine particularly, to see if the persons she was to ape was not present, and when satisfied they were not, would imitate all their oddities, so as to raise the laughter of the Company, who must all at the same time suppose, that to morrow, they would themselves afford the same diversion to others. And this is an accomplishment! If such a Character in a person already grown up, is always hated and avoided, what ought our sentiments be, of one, who encourages it in a Child, and creates an habit which is as contemptible, as dangerous.
Leonard White took his leave of us. The Vacation ends to-morrow, and he returns to Cambridge.
{ 400 }
Began upon the second book of the Iliad: it is something very extraordinary to me, how the fondness for Antiquity can lead men (and women) of taste and learning to such extravagant partiality for the ancients, as it has in many instances. Madam Dacier,2 went so far as to say that even the customs and manners of Antiquity, were as much better than those of modern times, as they were different. To be consistent she should have added religion too, for all the rest have their Source in that. I have been reading this day, that Jupiter the greatest of the Gods, revolving in his mind, how he might avenge, an injury of one man to another, by destroying thousands of innocent men, at length determines to send a deceitful dream, and frames, an impudent lye for the messenger to tell. What an idea, of the supreme being! Is it not a denial, of his wisdom, and justice, as well as of his Power? Surely our ideas of a God, are much more perfect at this Time. To say that this owing to no merit of our own, but to our having been favour'd with Revelation, is no argument against us, but on the contrary assigning the cause of our improvement. I shall continue to commit my Ideas on this subject to Paper; according as I have occasion.
1. Sarah White and Mary Henley White (Dean Dudley, History of the Dudley Family, Wakefield, Mass., 1886–1894, p. 798–799).
2. Anne Lefèvre Dacier, the distinguished Latin and Greek scholar and translator of the Odyssey and Iliad (Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale). At this time JQA may have owned copies of the Dacier translation of the Odyssey, 3 vols., Amsterdam, 1717, and the Iliad, 3 vols., Amsterdam, 1712, which have his bookplate (MQA).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0008

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-08


At home all day. Mr. True, was here all the afternoon. There is something extraordinary [about] this man: he has formerly been in a Melancholy state of mind, and appears even now to retain it, to a certain degree.
Finished the book of Luke in the afternoon.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0009

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-09


Miss Nancy, finally left us, this afternoon; and is going to board at Mr. Israël Bartlett's. Her going away, has given me pleasure, with respect to myself; as she was the Cause of many disagreeable little Circumstances to me. There was a Time, when I was Sensible of being more attached to her, than I should wish to { 401 } be; to any young Lady, to whom I was not in any way related: but it was of very short duration; indeed her character is such, as acquires a persons affection, much easier than she preserves it. But her natural disposition which is excellent, and the many good Qualities which appear, even through the mist of foibles and errors that surround them, have given me, a friendship for her, and it appears to me, that the present step, must do her essential injury, unless she can immediately assume a fund of Prudence, which, I have never seen her make use of. With one third part of the Vanity she has, she would be exceeding amiable. All her principal faults proceed from that, which has been fostered and fanned ever since she was introduced into company; and she was then too young, not to be tickled, with the Admiration paid her by a number of real and feigned admirers, such as always follow a young Lady of Wit and personal Attractions.
Spent the Evening at Mr. Dodge's in Company with Mr. Thaxter, Mr. Bartlett, the two Mr. Osgoods and Major Starke. The Conversation was partly upon literary subjects, and partly upon religion, a topic Mr. D. is not averse to.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0010

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-10


Thaw'd all day. The winter seems in some measure, to be gone; very little snow remaining on the ground, and the weather much like Spring.
Finished the Ars Poëtica of Horace, with which his works conclude. Thus I have of late dismissed several books, but shall be obliged, rather to increase my diligence, than otherwise; as Mr. Shaw received this Evening, from Mr. Williams the Professor of Mathematics, and natural History at Cambridge, a Letter informing him that his Lectures begin, the 21st. of next Month; so that I shall be obliged to go, much sooner than I expected. I have a great deal yet to do; but hope to go through it as, I have already done, so much. The Clock has just struck twelve, Consequently a new day begins, I shall therefore close this for the present.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0011

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-11


Eliza spent the day at Mr. White's; went down and drank tea there, with Mr. Thaxter, who was here part of the Evening. Mr. Shaw preaches to-morrow at Boxford, and is to be supplied, by a Mr. Howe,1 who came here this Evening. An extraordinary { 402 } { 403 } Character. He adopted a degree of familiarity, as soon as he came into the house, which, did not in any measure prejudice me in his favour. Indeed by the tenor of his Conversation I am led to Suspect his brain is a little crack'd but the singularity of his behaviour may be owing to the manner in which he has been educated and the Company he has kept. It is said that he carried himself through College, by working at wages as a farmer, at different times, so as to pay his bills, and to avoid being known he went by a feign'd name: this shows, a spirit of Ambition, and fondness for Study, which argue a mind above the common.
1. Undoubtedly, Tillotson Howe, a Dartmouth graduate and minister in several northern New England towns. As JQA's entries for 12 Feb. and 5 March (below) make clear, Howe exemplified dozens of young men trained at Eleazar Wheelock's nursery for the New Light ministry (Dartmouth College and Associated Schools General Catalogue, 1769–1940, Hanover, N.H., 1940; Eliza Ann Gibson Stickney, Reminiscences of Brownfield: Short Sketches from the History of the Town, East Brownfield, Maine, 1901, p. 55–56).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0012

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-12


Mr. Howe, preached us two Sermons from John III. 3. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. The text did not please me at first, and the tenets held forth, were pretty much such as I should have expected from this beginning. In the morning he said he would have us suppose, that we all wish'd and desired our own Destruction. In the afternoon we were told, that without grace, we could not believe, and without believing, we could not be saved; and that we could not acquire grace of ourselves; nor if we obtained it, was it owing to merit in us. An Impious System in my opinion. He said that an unregenerate man, supposing even he was admitted into heaven, could not be happy. This was quite a new Idea, to me. He illustrated it by a simile saying, a Swine, could never be happy, was he put into a Palace, elegantly furnish'd. He carried on this elegant simile for ten minutes. Another he made use of was still more ludicrous. A man could no more obtain grace, by works, than he could walk to get himself feet. At another time he said Adam's original sin, was imputed to all his Posterity. I know added he, this point is much contested, but my business is not to prove it here, and I shall therefore, take it for granted. This is a short way to prove anything, but, although he maintained a doctrine { 404 } which appeared to me, opposite to common sense, as well as injurious to the supreme being; yet sometimes he would speak for a quarter of an hour at a time, with a great degree of energy and Propriety. Some parts were excellent, but the, whole, was but indifferent at best. Spent the Evening with Mr. Thaxter. Eliza, was unwell in the afternoon.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0013

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-13


Mr. and Mrs. Allen, came over and dined here. They carried away my Cousin with them. She purposes spending a week at Bradford.
Finished the second Book of the Iliad, the latter part of which is a tedious enumeration of the Ships, which might I think as well have been omitted. Pope's Translation of this, is surely an excellent Poem; but the Ideas, are often very different. There is indeed a simplicity in some Passages of Homer, which in a modern language would be ridiculous. At the description of a Sacrifice and an Entertainment Homer says, of the victim, they knock'd out its brains, cut its throat, and thrust a spit through it. How different from this, Pope's paraphrase is, may be seen in his Iliad II. verse 202 &c.1 There are few of this Poet's original Pieces, in which it is not as plain to see imitation, as in the Homer.
1. JQA wrote 202 for 502:
Their Pray'rs perform'd, the chiefs the rite pursue,
The barley sprinkled, and the victim slew.
The limbs they sever from th'inclosing hyde,
The thighs, selected to the Gods, divide.
On these, in double cauls involv'd with art,
The choicest morsels lie from ev'ry part.
From the cleft wood the crackling flames aspire,
While the fat victims feed the sacred fire.
The thighs thus sacrific'd, and entrails drest,
Th'assistants part, transfix, and roast the rest.
(The Iliad of Homer, transl. Alexander Pope, 4 vols., London, 1759, 1:99; this edition, in JA's Library at MB, contains JQA's earliest bookplate, which is inscribed with the date 1781).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0014

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-14


Snow'd all the morning. Young Mr. Willis arrived from Boston, and informed us that a vessel will sail from Boston for London, in the Course of this Week. I wrote all the Evening, and closed a Letter to my Sister.1 Began the third book of the Iliad, and the Acts in the Testament.
1. Letter not found.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0015

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-15


The weather, very mild; it thaw'd all day. Spent the Evening at Dr. Saltonstall's; the first time I have been at his house, since I came to Town. The Doctor is a very Sensible man and an able Physician; but has a very disagreeable voice; a person accustomed to it, may not take notice of it, but at first it is almost intolerable. Finished my Latin Studies with the Andrian of Terence1. The Play is interesting, and many of the Sentiments are fine; but the unravelling of the Plot, is not very probable; indeed I might say it fails highly against the probability: not only in the Circumstance of the discovery itself which poets have often taken, and as it may well happen, is justifiable: but would a man, whose daughter had been shipwreckd sat silent without seeking for her. And why did not Phania, after being saved from a wreck at Andros, write to his brother, an account, of his Situation or if he could not write, inform him some other way, for Andros was not at a great distance from Athens, and probably there were often opportunities of sending from one place to another. <Many> other Circumstances, increase this improbability; but the Critic can never find Perfection, and the person that is willing to be pleased with what he reads, is happier than he who is always looking for faults.
1. Terence's Andria:JQA probably used the Brindley edition of Terence's Comoediae Sex, London, 1744, p. 1–42 (at MQA), which he had purchased the previous April in Paris.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0016

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-16


Mr. Thaxter and Miss Nancy dined here. The latter appeared very different from when she lived here. She seem'd to feel under restraint, and obliged to behave with propriety, I cannot see, how persons think that provided they behave well in Company, it is of no Consequence, how they behave at home. I believe I never knew a young Lady, of whom I thought so differently at different times; and as my present disposition of mind is not much in her favour, I will say nothing.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0017

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-17


Began the 4th. Book of the Iliad. Here again the despicable beings, the Heathens made of their Gods appears very plainly. In { 406 } a Counsel of the Gods, Jupiter begins with a bitter sarcasm, on purpose, as the Poet says, to raise the spleen of his wife. She raves like a fury, and then to appease her, he gives her the permission to destroy his favourite City, which of all others, had been the most pious to him. But he grants the favour, only upon condition that if he should take it into his head to destroy one of her beloved Cities, she should have no objection, and to this she readily assents. Enthusiasts in favour of the Ancients perhaps will say, that Religion is to be excepted, from what they admire them for and do not all relations from man to man, all our duties towards one another, and all the customs of Nations, flow from, Religion. And though it may be confessed that mankind in General, do not behave agreeable to the admirable Precepts, contained in the Christian System, yet they universally approve of them, and there are numbers of People who really follow them. A Man at this day, will not glory in avenging a trifling injury, by the slaughter of thousands. Nine men, in ten would heartily execrate the Idea. But the Reason, why such Complaints of the world's growing worse, have been made in all ages, I take to be this. Few men live long in the world without having suffered from baseness, and wickedness in others. They immediately lay to the whole race, those evil qualities they perceive in Individuals; but as they have received no personal injury from men that lived before them they form no antipathy against the race. They are prejudiced when they form the Comparison, and cannot therefore judge impartially.
Mr. Evans came to stay till Monday, and will preach for Mr. Shaw on Sunday.
Went down in the Evening to Mr. White's. There was a large Company of young ladies, and gentlemen there; for which Reason I stay'd but a little while there.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0018

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-18


All day within; the weather uncommonly mild. Mr. Thaxter spent the Evening and supped here. Began the 2d. volume of the Essay upon the human Understanding. There are many things, somewhat abstruse, in this book, and I have not at present time to read them with sufficient attention, but there is one thing, which I never heard of, and which surprized me. He seems to adopt the opinion of the transmigration of souls; and in a very { 407 } long note, where he defends himself, against the bishop of Worcester, he rather enlarges upon it. All this is upon the subject of identity, which takes up a considerable part of the book.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0019

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-19


Mr. Evans preach'd in the forenoon from Luke XV. 18. 19. I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee. And am no more worthy to be called thy Son: make me as one of thy hired Servants. In the afternoon the two ensuing verses. And he arose, and came to his father: but when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy Son. There is not perhaps in the whole Bible, a subject upon which a clergyman, can employ his talents more usefully. This Story naturally leads to the encouragement of all the virtues that adorn human Nature, and shows, in a striking light the terrible consequences of Vice. Mr. Evans had two good Sermons upon it; there was an apparent imitation of Yorick's,1 but I did not like them the less for that. He did not take certain heads to his discourse, as is a general custom among our Clergymen; but I think like Mr. Osgood, who said he did not see what good a parcel of heads without any bodies, could do. The discourses were moral, and practical; and I prefer hearing none at all, to hearing those of any other kind. Mr. Redington, and Judge Blodget were here in the Evening.
1. Laurence Sterne, Sermons of Mr. Yorick.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0020

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-20


Snow'd almost all day. In the evening I went over to Bradford, with my brother. Eliza, thought to be sure somebody was sick, that we came in such weather; stay'd a couple of hours: as I return'd I stopp'd in half an hour at Mr. White's.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0021

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-21


The weather cleared up in the Night; somewhat cold, and very windy. Mr. Evans set off in the afternoon for Portsmouth.
Finished the 4th. and began the 5th. Book of the Iliad. The 200 { 408 } last lines in the 4th. are much more difficult than any thing I have met with in Greek as yet.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0022

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-22


Mr. and Mrs. Allen, and Eliza, stopp'd here on their way to Kittery, at about half after 8. I was not up. I cannot study in the morning, because there is always so much stirring; but when every body else in the house is in bed, I have nothing to interrupt me, so that I seldom retire before 1 in the morning, and rise, between 8 and 9. I have endeavoured to sleep less but have not been able.
The weather mild all day. Looks something like rain; which would make very bad travelling, and the Town less lively: Finished the second Volume of the Essay upon the human Understanding. There is much said in the latter end of the Book, concerning the real essence of things. He may be right in his conjectures, but I know not how far upon those Principles, Pyrrhonism,1 might be carried; and perhaps, it is not a question of great Consequence, whether we know the real essence of things or not.
1. The philosophical doctrine which claims the impossibility of attaining certainty of knowledge, first taught by Pyrrho of Elis, ca. 300 B.C. (OED).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0023

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-23


Mr. Shaw went to the funeral of Mr. Wingate, formerly a Minister at Boxford. A Mr. and Mrs. Swift from Andover dined here. Mr. True, came home with Mr. Shaw, and will lodge here tonight. Read Guthrie's Grammar in the Evening. This is to me, at present a more entertaining study, than Locke; and does not require so close application.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0024

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-24


Another Snow storm; almost all day. Closed the Acts, in the Testament, and began the Romans. In the last Chapter of Acts, there is a Story, which, shows how far ignorance and prejudice, mislead the judgment of men. A Viper sticks upon St. Paul's hand, and the People, immediately suppose him to be a murderer, but as soon as they find he receives no hurt from it, they conclude he is a God. Eventus Stultorum magister,1 says Livy, { 409 } but if all those who judge of most things from the Event, are to be comprehended under that denomination, who would escape the charge of folly. But I think it the duty of Every one, to endeavour to be, as little as possible influenced by Events. As men, and their Actions, are really, either good or bad in themselves, and not according to their success; it is unjust to judge them upon any other Principles.
1. “Nec eventus mode hoc docet, (stultorum iste magister est),” Livy, The History of Rome, Bk. 22, chap. 39 [line 10] (Titus Livius Historiarum Libri qui Supersunt Omnes, 3 vols., Leipzig, 1769, 1:742, at MQA with JQA's bookplate and inscription): “nor does the event only, that instructor of fools, demonstrate it” (Titus Livius, The History of Rome, transl. D. Spillan and Cyrus Edmonds, 4 vols., N.Y., 1892, 2:809).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0025

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-25


Very pleasant, all day. A curious Event happened, at the last Assembly: a misfortune befel one of the Ladies; and a few days after, an scandalous Advertisement, was fastened upon a sign post. I have as yet heard no more, but I much suspect it will be attended in the End with some disagreeable Circumstances. Some persons can be taught prudence and Caution only by bitter experience. We expected Mr. Allen, with the Ladies back this Night, but yesterdays storm, probably prevented them. Mr. Thaxter was here, about an hour in the Evening.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0026

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-26


We had this day two very good Sermons, from II. Kings XXII. 20th. Behold therefore I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace, and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place and from Romans XII. 15. Rejoice, with them that do rejoyce, and weep with them that weep. The former, was an occasional discourse; the other was practical, and properly inculcated the virtue of participating, in the happiness and the griefs of others.
Spent the Evening with Mr. Thaxter. He has been unwell all day.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0027

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-27


Finished the 5th book of the Iliad; containing, the gallant actions of Diomed[es], who drives all before him; wounds two { 410 } Gods, and pursues a third very closely. This part of the story is very interesting. Went in the evening, down to Mr. White's. Peggy, and Nancy Hazen, went to Salem this afternoon; to attend the Assembly there to-morrow, and return again on Wednesday.
Went in to Mr. Bartlett's, a few minutes. Found Eliza return'd when I came home. I Was much chagrined, at something I perceiv'd.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0028

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-28


Company to dine. Assembly Night. Went, with Eliza, but did not dance. There were 27 Ladies present, and about 20 Gentlemen. There were a number of strangers among the Gentlemen; I might make a number of sarcastic reflections, upon the manner of dancing, and appearance of several persons there; but I do not think it is a matter of sufficient importance to induce one, to laugh, at a person who cannot show the elegance of a dancing master; and if it is; as I did not dance myself, it would be unfair to laugh at those, who had they had the opportunity might have laugh'd equally at me. It is base to ridicule a person for any failing that is owing to no mental vice or foible.
There was one Lady present (Mrs. Payson) for whom I was anxious all the Evening: I feared she would; while she was throwing herself about, be taken with a different kind of throes. It is exceedingly imprudent for a Lady in that Situation to frequent such places. We returned home, at a little after 1. in the morning. I drank a dish of Coffee which kept me awake almost all Night. In the Evening I had some conversation with Mr. Larieu, and I was told, the Ladies, laugh'd at us, for the contrast, that we appeared to make. He is exceeding thin. This is an advantage in dancing. He did not miss once; and except, about an hour of interval, he was up, all the while I was there. I ask'd him, if he was not fatigued and warm; he said j'ai un peu chaud, et je suis un peu fatigué, mais il n'y a pas une goutte de sueur dans mon corps.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0003-0001

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-03-01

Wednesday March 1st. 1786.

At home all day: Eliza, dined and passed the afternoon, at Mr. Duncan's. Mr. Thaxter went to Portsmouth upon business. Felt { 411 } quite fatigued all day, though, I did not sit up, later than common last night. Retired at about 11.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0003-0002

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-03-02


Finished, the sixth book of Homer's Iliad in the forenoon, and shall go no further in it here. I admire this Poem, more, and more, though it must be confess'd the author now and then nods. It has however more, and more confirmed me, in the opinion that the world has vastly improved, even as, to sentiments since that time. In the last book, an instance occurs where a young warrior entreats Menelaüs to spare his life, but Agamemnon, kills him immediately, and old Nestor, highly approves the cruelty. Whenever the Greeks are exhorted by their chiefs, the arguments made use of, are, that if they are conquerors the wives, daughters, and fortunes of the Trojans, will be at their disposition. Now I will own, that in modern times there are examples of great Barbarity in War. But there are also many of humanity which among the ancients was thought inconsistent with war. But I will say no more, on this subject.
Mr. Thaxter return'd this Evening, though it has been either snowing or raining all day. He was not to come home till to-morrow; but gave two reasons for coming so soon: he did not mention a third, which I fancy, was as strong, as either of the others.
Storm'd hard in the night: was up after 1. in the morning.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0003-0003

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-03-03


I have often wish'd to hear the following Question discussed by persons well acquainted with the human heart. Whether any Person can at the same time, Love, and despise, another, of a different sex? I think the two sentiments not only can be, but very often are united: but I may mistake. No Love can be permanent, but what is founded on esteem; but there may be a temporary attachment to a person, who<m> we are sensible is wholly unworthy of it, and such must be I imagine, all the Conquests of a Coquette who though she may be beloved by many, can be esteemed by none. This Character is so contemptible; that one would think no being blessed with any share of Reason ever could assume it. Vanity it is true, may be flattered for a Time; but it is soon doubly mortified, and when once the flower of { 412 } Beauty is gone, they have nothing left to recommend them: but so much must suffice for the present.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0003-0004

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-03-04


Eliza, spent the day at Mr. White's. Mr. Thaxter was here in the Evening. The weather very mild: a farmer, who was here in the Course of the day, said the river was very ticklish.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0003-0005

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-03-05


Snow'd all the morning, but the air so mild, that it melted generally as it fell to the ground. Two Sermons from I. Corinthians X. 31. Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. The text in itself is good, but like most other texts of Scripture, has been shamefully abused. There was in this Sermon, as in many I have heard since I have been here, little, that I admired, and little, that I disliked. Liberality of Sentiment, cannot be expected from a Pulpit, on religious points. If a Clergyman ventures, not to be quite illiberal, it is the most he can do. While they exclaim against the Palpable absurdities of the Romish Church: they themselves fall into others equally ridiculous, and the never failing resource of texts from Scripture, is continually produced. There is a new System which carries the depravity of human Nature further, than, any I ever heard of, all arising from the text which Mr. Howe, who has adopted the plan, preach'd on three Sundays agone. I have several times discovered my abhorrence, of any Idea, of a divinity who should condemn men to everlasting torments, for what they could not in any measure help or prevent. I was perhaps too zealous; and a person who I suspect is inclined to the same uncharitable way of thinking, though he does not profess to be, used this Argument. Did I think it was possible I might be wrong? I did. Well; who of two Persons was most probably right, one who was merely a youth, who had not studied those things; or a man who had made them his chief (he might have said only) study for many years? But this proves nothing. Should a man, who for 50 years had studied nothing but the Proprieties and differences of colours, tell me that ebony and alabaster, were of the same colour I should think the assertion absurd, though I judge of colours only as they strike my Senses. I desire never to have an Idea, of a god, who is not infinitely good, and merciful, as well as powerful.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0003-0006

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-03-06


Mrs. Saltonstall, Mrs. Harrod,1 and Betsey Duncan drank tea here. Mr. Thaxter remained part of the Evening. He is I think as much attached as I ever saw any body: and is an instance, of what has often been observed that men, free from any passion, can reason, upon them, much better than they can practice, when called to. Many times have I heard him declare his disgust at fondness shown by Husbands and Wives before Company: but now, he is behind hand to no person I am acquainted with. He cannot bear to see Parents indulgent to little children: perhaps, in three or four years I shall see him do like most other People in the same Situation.
1. Anna Treat Harrod (ca. 1752–1832), mother of Ann Harrod, who later married TBA.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0003-0007

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-03-07


Fine Weather, all day and very mild, yet the river is not so weak but what Teems and slays cross'd it.
This day Week, I am, to go to Cambridge. The nearer any Circumstance approaches; the greater is our Impatience of it. What two months ago, I did not think of once in a week; now comes to my mind almost every hour. Studied Watts in the Night.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0003-0008

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-03-08


Mr. White's family, and Miss Sally McKinstry, drank tea here. This young Lady has been all the Winter at Boston; she is very genteel, and was it not for a little twist in the Position of her eyes, would be uncommonly handsome. Notwithstanding this blemish her Countenance, is pleasing, and frequently dimpled with a smile. She is sociable, but unfortunately I cannot be so with a stranger, and had not much Conversation with her.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0003-0009

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-03-09


Mr. Shaw went over to Bradford, to Mr. Allen's Lecture. The river still remains in a dangerous situation; but freezes so much in the night, that the mildness of the day is not sufficient to break up the Ice.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0003-0010

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-03-10


Clear, but cold Weather. Went, and took a walk with Eliza, just before dusk, as far as the ship yard, we pass'd the Evening, at Mr. White's. Mrs. Moody and Miss Codman were there. The Latter is a Lady from Boston; not handsome, and appears to be in a poor State of Health. Mrs. Moody, is a widow, who, is fond of appearing young, and is what the french call une jeune femme de 20 à 60 ans. Miss Priscy McKinstry, and Nancy Hazen came in too in the course of the Evening. Nancy was very formal, and ceremonious to me, as she has been, uniformly, since she left this house. I was not displeased at it, and return'd it as much as I could. Where a person will not be upon terms of friendly intimacy; I wish never to be behind hand with him in Ceremony.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0003-0011

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-03-11


Dined at Dr. Saltonstall's, with Mr. Shaw, Mr. Thaxter and Master Parker. Spent the Afternoon at Mr. White's. Mr. Thaxter was here in the Evening.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0003-0012

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-03-12


Went all day to hear Mr. Smith. I had never heard him before. His text for the whole day was from Solomon's song II. 14. O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see, thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely. The discourse in the forenoon, was entirely taken up in a description of the Properties of the Dove, and how they Coincided with those of the Church of Christ. Its Innocence, it's Beauty chastity and cleanliness, and Swiftness, were all taken notice of, and some good practical observations were drawn from the subject in the afternoon. The remainder of the text was considered, but as he commonly is said to do, towards the latter end of the discourse he grew extremely vociferous, and it was a continued strain of declamation. As he preaches without notes, and with very little previous studying, his sermons do not shine in the disposition of his arguments. He often starts from his subject; and when embarassed with any contested point, screaming, is his only resource.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0003-0013

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-03-13


The Day was employ'd in paying visits, and packing up my trunks. I went to Mr. White's, Major Bartlett's, Mr. Osgood's, Mr. Duncan's, and Mr. Dodge's. The weather very mild.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0003-0014

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-03-14


At 7 in the morning, we mounted our horses, and went about half a mile up the River where a passage for a Boat was cut through, yesterday, as the Ice was so much weaken'd as made it dangerous to cross over it. We went in to Mr. Allen's, for about half an hour, and then proceeded before dinner as far as Wilmington. We arrived at Cambridge, a little after Sun set, much fatigued as the roads were but indifferent. The weather was mild.
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.