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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0003-0029

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-03-29

29th.

I went this evening with Bridge, and pass'd half an hour at Mr. Wigglesworth's. Ned is very ill of a pleurisy fever, and Peggy looks low spirited. The Professor has been all along, and still is much opposed to a private Commencement, and when he has once adopted an opinion, I believe it would require supernatural powers to convince him that it is erroneous.
Dr. Jennison had one or two square of glass in his windows broken this evening, and has lately received several other insults of the same kind: it was owing to a complaint made by him that Prescott and Wier were admonished, and this Circumstance has made him very unpopular.
Bossenger Foster1 of Boston was 19. the 9th. of last December. Of him I can say but little: he is a very good speaker, and has a good natural genius, but has not been very assiduous in improving the talents entrusted to him by nature: his conversation and manners are often puerile, and very seldom show him to great advantage: his chief excellency lies in declaiming an elegant piece of composition, and in playing on the violin: in these particulars there is not, perhaps his superior in College. He is remarked by some, as being of a narrow disposition, but this stigma is cast by certain characters upon every person who keeps within the bounds of common frugality. And if this were Foster's only fault I should set him down, as an excellent character.
1. Foster later studied law in Theophilus Parsons' office with JQA (entry for 20 Sept. 1788, below).
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Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0003-0030

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-03-30

30th.

Charles went to Boston this forenoon.
I have been somewhat idle for several days: and expect to continue so till the exhibition is over; for so long as that is before me I can pay very little attention to any thing else. I found this to be the case last fall, and do now, still more so but, thank fortune I have only one more trial at the worst, of this kind to go through; which will be at commencement unless we should obtain a private one. Distinctions of this kind are not, I think, very desirable; for besides the trouble and anxiety which they unavoidably create they seldom fail of raising the envy of the other students. I have oftentimes witnessed this with respect to others and I am much deceived if I have not lately perceived it, with respect to myself.

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0003-0031

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-03-31

31st.

The Class recited in Doddridge this morning, but I did not attend, being rather unwell. The weather has been very pleasant for several days: and indeed the whole month has been much more agreeable than March generally is.

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0004-0001

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-04-01

Sunday April 1st. 1787.

Attended meeting the whole day, to hear Mr. Hilliard; and had moreover the supreme felicity of waiting on the amiable Miss Williams to her home. After meeting, at night, I wrote part of my forensic, for next Tuesday. Attended the meeting of the A B. in the evening: not many of the members present. Two or three pieces however were read, and a forensic dispute between Abbot 3d. and Dodge, upon the curious question, whether wine be beneficial to mankind. A little after nine, we dispersed.

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

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-04-02

2d.

Recite this week in Burlamaqui: This is the day on which the election of a governor is made throughout the Commonwealth: in this Town, there were only 37 votes for Mr. Bowdoin, and 154 for Mr. Hancock: this gentleman has likewise a majority of 50 votes in Boston; indeed it is supposed he will have a consider• { 190 } able majority throughout the State. Mr. Cushing has the majority of votes, as lieutenant Governor, both here, and at Boston.
The Martimercurian band assembled this afternoon to choose their officers for the ensuing year. Gardner was chosen Captain, Gordon lieutenant, and Barron ensign.
We had this evening a meeting of the ΦBK, at Cushman's chamber; he read a Dissertation, but the dispute was omitted. Little business was done; and after appointing writers for the next meeting, we all retired. I pass'd the remainder of the evening at White's chamber.
Up late.
Nathaniel Freeman1 of Sandwich, County of Barnstable, was 21. the 1st. of last month. Few persons are so liberally gifted by nature as this gentleman. He is of a middle size, but extremely well proportioned, his countenance is very handsome, and full of dignity: as an animated speaker he shines unrivaled in our Class, and for brilliancy of imagination he is inferior to none of his fellow students. He appears to be well acquainted with his peculiar excellence, and has therefore chiefly attended to composition; perhaps he has gone too far in this respect, so as to neglect other studies equally useful. In the languages, in the mathematical, and philosophical pursuits, and in metaphysics; though superior to the generality of the students, he is however surpassed by many individuals. He was formed for an orator,2 and as such he will be distinguished whether he plead at the bar, or administer at the altar. With great sensibility he unites great ambition; but notwithstanding his numerous advantages he is as free from vanity as any person of my acquaintance. He is warm in his friendship, and perhaps rather too keen in his resentments. His passions are strong, but their violence is counteracted by the generosity of his heart. He has many imperfections, which are the concomitants of humanity; but upon the whole it would be difficult to find at this university a more promising character.
1. Freeman later studied law and practiced in Sandwich, served as brigade major in the militia, and was a representative in the congress 1795–1799 (Freeman, Hist. of Cape Cod, 1:561–562; 2:137).
2. Freeman, the “preferred rival” to JQA in oratory at commencement, was described as “superior in style, elegance and oratory” to JQA by the Massachusetts Centinel, 21 July. “Freeman was not deficient in elegance of diction; in mellifluousness he was unequalled. He has happily imitated the plain and just model of eloquence which has been attended with the most flattering success in this country” (JQA, Memoirs, 6:77).
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/