A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
close

Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0010-0001

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-10-01

Monday October 1st. 1787.

I have not yet got over the consequences of our frolick on Saturday evening. Three whole evenings I have by this means entirely lost, for I cannot yet write with any comfort. How inseparably in all cases of intemperance, is the punishment allied to the fault!
Stedman went this day for Portsmouth, will return here to-morrow, and take his final leave on Wednesday. He is going to open an office at Cambridge, where I heartily wish him success.
In the afternoon I went with Townsend and Thomson and Little, up to Sohier's, and had the usual fare. We return'd leisurely in the evening. I was too much fatigued to write much; having withal a little of the head ache. Putnam arrived in town { 298 } this afternoon; and I suppose will enter Mr. Bradbury's office immediately.
I shall find I believe very much the want of Mr. Parsons's presence, when he goes off. His attendance upon the genl. Court, will engross his time very much. Next week he will go to Boston, and will be gone I suppose nearly two months. There are a thousand questions which I shall want to propose to him from time to time; but which I shall be reduced to find out by my own industry, and what assistance Townsend and Amory can give me.

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

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-10-02

2d.

I have at length recovered my usual tone, and have been able this day to attend to business with as much satisfaction as common. Stedman came back from Portsmouth this afternoon: in the evening I carried a packet of letters to his lodgings, for Cambridge.
I began to copy off, not a small volume, of forms for declarations.1 This is a piece of drudgery, which certainly does not carry its reward with it. But it is a necessary piece of work, for which reason I think the sooner it is finished, the better. I was in hopes before I came here, that I should have time for reading books of entertainment: but after passing eight hours a day in the office, and spending four more in writing minutes, and forms at home, I am not husband of time sufficient to set any more apart for any kind of mental application, and indeed if for three years I can proceed with as much industry, as I have done since I entered the office, the de——l [devil?] will be to pay, if I have not some stock of law. Health is all I shall ask.
1. A collection of various pleading forms used by a plaintiff's lawyer in actions at law. These and other pleadings were often copied by law students to serve as models for future drafting. JQA's volume of forms has not been found.

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0010-0003

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-10-03

3d.

Continued in the first volume of Blackstone. In the course of my reading this day; I came across a paragraph, which surprized me; it was this. “It is a principle of universal law, that the natural-born subject of one prince, cannot by any act of his own, no, not by swearing allegiance to another, put off or discharge his natural allegiance to the former: for this natural allegiance was { 299 } intrinsic, and primitive and antecedent to the other: and cannot be devested without the concurrent act of that prince to whom it was first due.”1 I enquired of Mr. Parsons his opinion upon the subject. He said that if instead of universal law, it was common law the assertion would be just; but that in his opinion, by the law of nature every man had a right to put off his natural allegiance, for good cause, and this I think much more reasonable, than to say, that a man is obliged to serve and assist his sovereign however cruel tyrannical and unjust he may be. The doctrine of Blackstone must I think imply that of passive obedience; which is not now to be refuted. It may indeed be said that every unjust act, is a tacit consent to the discharge of the subjects allegiance; but this is straining the meaning of words, a great length; and I think it is much the best to cut the gordian knot, as Mr. Parsons did.
I wrote along in the evening till late.
1. Commentaries on the Laws of England, 11th edn., 4 vols., London, 1791, 1:369–370.
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/