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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0006-0024

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-06-24

24th.

Attended meeting all day. Mr. Shuttlesworth preach'd; I was much better pleased with him, than I had expected to be. His language is not perfectly correct, nor his stile remarkably accurate; but his delivery is agreeable, and his composition cannot be called bad. I was much pleased with his manner of praying. I walk'd with Mr. Cranch and his son, this evening, and ascended the highest hill within several miles. We had a view of the harbour, the sea, and the cluster of islands, which are spread about thick in the bay; the prospect is beautiful: but a prospect pleases only for a few moments, and affords no satisfaction to a man, when it has once lost its novelty: near the top of this hill, we found a living spring, which it is said, in the driest Seasons, is { 245 } always supplied with water. Mr. Cranch started doubts concerning the common theory, by which this phenomenon of springs is accounted for: it does not perfectly satisfy him: and indeed I think his objections very just.

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0006-0025

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-06-25

25th.

My Cousin and his mamma, went to Milton this afternoon. I went to see my Grandmamma. Miss N. Quincy, was here when I return'd: she proposes passing the week here. Two thousand pound, and an amiable disposition have not yet married her. It is strange how some girls, without either fortune, beauty, or any amiable qualities, have a talent at engaging a man's affections, so as to escape, the name of an old maid, which next to death is most dreaded by a female: and yet others with every qualification of the heart, which could promise happiness to an husband, with sense, and fortune, are forced to enter the ridiculous sisterhood; but there is no accounting for the opinions and caprices of mankind; they must be taken as they are; for better, for worse.1
I read the beggar's Opera,2 this evening, for the first time.... did not admire it.
1. In 1790 Nancy married Rev. Asa Packard, minister at Marlborough, Mass. (Joseph Allen, The Worcester Association and Its Antecedents: A History of Four Ministerial Associations: The Marlborough, The Worcester (Old), the Lancaster, and the Worcester (New) Associations..., Boston, 1868, p. 114–116). After Nancy's marriage, which, according to JQA, “blasted even before the bud” AA's “darling project for the advancement” of her eldest son, JQA refined his ideas on the role of fortune in a prospective bride. Your son “never will be indebted,” he wrote to his mother, “to his wife for his property. I once seriously thought that I should easily be enabled to make matrimony an instrument of my Avarice or my Ambition. But really it is not so, and I am fully persuaded like Sancho, that if it should rain mitres in this way, there would be never an one to fit my head” (JQA to AA, 14 Aug. 1790, Adams Papers).
2. John Gay, The Beggar's Opera, London, 1728.

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0006-0026

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-06-26

26th.

Mr. and Mrs. Boyes [Boies] with Miss Lucy, came over and dined here. After dinner we went to Squantum, to Mr. Beale's:1 there was a large company. Mr. and Mrs. Woodward, Mr. A. Alleyne, and his mother, Mrs. Quincy, Mr. Woodbridge and his Sister from Salem, with Miss Robertson and Miss Peale. Miss Woodbridge is called very handsome, but her features are too regular: She has a very fine set of teeth, which every body must know who has ever seen her. She appears sociable, and of an { 246 } open, frank disposition. Miss Robertson, would not generally be called so handsome, nor has she so amiable a countenance; but her complexion is still fairer, and there is an expression in her features which the other wants. She wears a small patch of court-plaister on her cheek, which has a pretty effect. But, when I see a patch of this kind, on a Lady's cheek, I consider it as I do a brand on a man's forehead; the one convinces me that the man is a rogue; the other that the woman is a coquet; and I endeavour equally to avoid them. After tea we walk'd down to the chapel, form'd by the cavities between the summits of several sharp rocks. These rocks are broken off, so that the sea, bathes their foundation, and the perpendicular descent is not less I suppose than 50 feet. The perpendicular surface is not smooth, as at the cliffs of Dover, but craggy, and rather concave. The tops of the rocks are sharp and verge to a point. From this place, it is said, one of the female leaders of the indians, in former days, plunged into the sea, after the loss of a battle; preferring this death to captivity, like the bard of Snowdon.2 But what foundation there may be for this tradition, I have never heard. After a pretty long ramble, we set out and return'd home, in the evening. Miss B. Apthorp, stopp'd for a few minutes at my uncles.
1. Benjamin Beale, a merchant with trading interests in Liverpool, where he married and had a family. He was the father of JQA's classmate and later was JA's neighbor (Pattee, Old Braintree and Quincy, p. 241; AA2, Jour. and Corr., 2:124).
2. Probably a reference to Thomas Gray's Pindaric ode, The Bard, about the Welsh bard who jumped to his death rather than face execution at the hands of the conquering English (Thomas Gray, Poetical Works of Mr. Gray, new edn., London, 1785, p. 33–39, at MQA).
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/