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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0005-0014

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-05-14

14th.

We had a philosophical lecture at 11. A Class meeting was called this evening, to determine, whether the Class should take any further measures, upon the ill success of our petition for the overseers: it was proposed that the whole Class should refuse to perform the different parts that may be allotted to them for Commencement. A Committee of three was appointed, (Barron, Freeman and Packard,) to draw up a solemn declaration to be signed by all the Class. After an adjournment of one hour, we returned to the chappel: the declaration was read, and signed by 29 members of the Class: some requested time to reflect upon the subject, and some peremptorily refused to sign: it was finally voted to adjourn the meeting till to-morrow morning, that those { 221 } who wish for time to think on the matter, may then insert their names. I, opposed the measure, because, I perceived that more than half of those who signed, were influenced merely by the fear of being thought desirous of honourable parts: and I am morally certain an engagement of that kind, when contracted with so much reluctance, would never be regarded, if the person who contracted it should find it for his interest to violate the agreement.

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0005-0015

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-05-15

15th.

Mr. Williams gave us a lecture upon pneumatics: The parts for Commencement were not given out this morning as was expected: but the Class met by adjournment and tore up the agreement, as they found there was not sufficient unanimity, to carry the measure into execution.
William Mason,1 of Salem, Essex C. will be 19 the 12th. of next September. His natural abilities are very good, and he has a peculiar taste for the Science of natural philosophy: this he has cultivated much by reading, and observation: but in all the other branches of learning, he has been rather remiss, and to all the college exercices, he has been very inattentive; his moral principles are not very severe, and in general since he has been a member of this university, he has been as indolent, and dissipated as any in the Class: his disposition is naturally good, and he is possessed of an innate generosity of soul, which even when it is carried to an excess, is at least an amiable failing: but he has not that command over his passions, which is requisite to a man, who wishes to be popular in the world; and he has always borne the character of a buck: his faults however may all be attributed to youthful imprudence; and a few years may probably render him a very useful member of Society.2
1. Mason later became preceptor at “Smith's Academy” in Charleston, S.C. (Bentley, Diary, 1:178, 182, 322; 3:147).
2. Found at this point in the Diary on a loose sheet of paper are ten lines of poetry in JQA's hand about JA which were copied from Joel Barlow's The Vision of Columbus; A Poem in Nine Books, Hartford, 1787, p. 165.

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0005-0016

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-05-16

16th.

The parts for Commencement have been expected for a day or two, with some degree of impatience by the Class: they have not { 222 } yet, however been delivered. I pass'd last evening with Freeman at the Butler's chamber: he said he had seen the different parts at the president's; and that there were several of a different kind, from what have been usual in former years. Mr. Williams gave us another lecture this forenoon, upon pneumatics; he proceeds faster this year than he did last, and may close sooner, although it was a week later, when he began.
Daniel Mayo1 of Roxbury, Suffolk C. will be 25 the 30th. of next September. Little can be said of this person, except that his disposition, is very amiable: as a scholar, and as a speaker he is neither contemptible nor excellent: his chief attention has been turn'd to the study of geometry, Surveying, trigonometry, and those parts of the mathematics which are usually studied here. In these he has made some proficiency: but his virtues are more the objects of our esteem, than his abilities of our admiration: he will certainly be a good man: and that reputation is much more meritorious than the fame of extraordinary talents; because the qualities of the head are given to us, by nature; but those of the heart depend chiefly upon ourselves.
1. Mayo went west in 1788 with Col. Ebenezer Battelle, Harvard 1775, to Belpre, Ohio, where he taught school for a few years. Eventually he settled in Newport, Ky. (Clara Paine Ohler, “Frontier Life in the Old Northwest,” Journal of American History, 2:305 [1908]).
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/