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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0006-0019

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-06-19

19th.

This forenoon Mr. Cranch pass'd through here on his way to Boston. We are to return to Braintree in the chaise. Billy went with his father to Boston, and brought back the Chaise this evening. The idea of leaving College threw me into a train of gloomy and disagreeable reflections; which however in the evening were dissipated by conversation.
Samuel Williams of Cambridge, son to our professor of Mathematics, and natural Philosophy, will be 17 the 6th. of next Octr. His being introduced so young into the world has been essentially injurious to him. An immoderate share of Vanity appears to be one of the characteristics of this family, and Sam, appears more particularly influenced by this passion. His vanity is so extensive that it not only inspires him with a great admiration for his useful abilities whether natural or acquired, (and of these he has no great reason to be vain) but he likewise descends to self approbation upon every trivial, and even useless accomplishment. He is so fond of hearing himself talk that he seldom suffers any one with whom he is [in] conversation to say much; and yet I do not recollect ever hearing him discourse, unless he himself was his theme,

“And I the little hero of each tale.”

Of his genius he does not talk often, and only by modest hints: of his knowledge, he gives information by telling what he has done; his spirit he discovers by relating, how many times he has insulted the president and the tutors, particularly Mr. Read, and by declaring how he would have treated such a fellow, if he had received such an insult from him, as another fellow did, without resenting it. He values himself much upon drinking hard, and never getting drunk, but at shooting, wrestling, playing ball, and boxing he supposes himself perfectly irresistible. He damns Mr. Read, for being partial towards those, who have always treated him with respect, and against those, who have always made it a practice to insult him: and he knows the president has a personal pique against him: his opinions change like the wind, and he adopts affections and aversions, equally without knowing why or wherefore. I have at different times heard him express the most exalted ideas, of Bridge, Little, Barron, Freeman, Lloyd and Cranch; and at other times I have heard him speak with per• { 243 } fect contempt of the same persons, the last excepted. In short he has not yet any fix'd principles; and untill he has, he never will be a respectable character.

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0006-0020

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-06-20

20th.

The weather was extremely warm: I had a long contest with Johnson, in the barber's shop. We finally agreed to drop the subject: for we were perswaded that we should each retain his own sentiments let the dispute be ever so long. Williams, Mason, and Cranch were at my chamber till commons' time: in the afternoon I pack'd up some of my things. As Mr. Read had desired, that those of the Class who should still be here, might stop in the chapel after prayers this evening, we determined to wait and hear his address. He had committed it to memory: it was friendly, and contained some very good advice. Soon after we came out; Cranch and I set off for Braintree, where we arrived at about 10 o'clock.
It is not without many melancholy reflections that I bid a last adieu to the walls of Harvard! The scenes through which I have past since my entrance at the university have been for the most part agreeable, I have formed an intimacy, with a number of amiable and respectable characters of my own age, and with dispositions corresponding to my own. I have never once regretted, but have frequently rejoyced that I left Europe, to come and pass a twelve-month here. It has been productive of very good effects; particularly, in reducing my opinion of myself, of my acquirements, and of my future prospects, nearer to the level of truth and reality. I hope, that in two or three years more, I shall have taken down, without any violence, all the elegant castles which my imagination had built in the air, over my head, and which for want of a foundation, were liable, to be overset, and crush the builder, if any accident had happened. And I believe that even now, (making allowance, for a little vanity, which has frequently been flattered,) I do not exaggerate my prospects, more than other young people of my age, and circumstances, do.

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0006-0021

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-06-21

21st.

This is the day, when our Class should by rights, have quitted college; but they have been dropping off by degrees, these three weeks, so that there were not left more than three or four to go { 244 } away, to-day. For my own part I have been dull and low spirited; the whole day. We took a walk this evening with the two young ladies.
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/